Stanton upbeat, thankful hit to face wasn't worse

Marlins slugger speaks to media one week after sustaining fractures, dental damage

Stanton upbeat, thankful hit to face wasn't worse

MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton's season may be over, but the National League Most Valuable Player Award candidate remains upbeat and optimistic about a full recovery from facial fractures he suffered a week ago at Milwaukee.

Meeting with the media Thursday night for the first time since being struck in the face by a pitch, Stanton said he anticipates being ready for Spring Training, and the Marlins slugger plans on wearing a helmet with an extension to protect his face when he steps back into the batter's box.

"The swelling is way down," Stanton said. "Much better than I envisioned. Just got to get the grill fixed and go from there."

Full recovery will take six to eight weeks. In the meantime, the 24-year-old slugger will have an additional CT scan to determine when he will be cleared to fly. He also has more dental appointments.

If possible, Stanton wanted to return to at least get another at-bat before the regular season ended. But he wasn't medically cleared.

"I would have, for sure," Stanton said. "I know you see the initial bang and think, 'There is no way he could come back.' But if physically it was possible, I would have been the first to do so."

With the severity of the injuries sustained from taking an 88-mph Mike Fiers fastball on the left side of his face, Stanton understands his situation could have been much worse.

"I was really fortunate," he said. "I could have my mouth wired shut now. I could have a plate in my face. I could have a lot of things. I'll take a few missing teeth over all of that."

Stanton did suffer a fracture to his orbital bone, but it didn't impair his vision.

"You hear about people losing their eye, or you lose vision," he said. "My jaw can be broken. I can lose as many teeth. As long as I'm able to see, that's the big career thing."

Admittedly, Stanton isn't sure what to expect the next time he faces a pitcher.

"I've wondered about that," Stanton said. "I think I'm in a great mental state for what has gone on. But to be able to be back into the box, and in competition, I'm not quite sure. I think when we decide the protection that will be on, I'll have more reassurance wearing that. I don't know."

Stanton spoke with reporters shortly before the Marlins faced the Nationals on Thursday night. He didn't want to be videoed of have any photos taken. Much of the swelling has subsided, but Stanton is sporting two black eyes and has a swollen left side of the mouth.

Since the incident, Stanton and Fiers have exchanged some text messages.

"He said, obviously, it wasn't on purpose," Stanton said. "He said how sorry he was. It's been tough to sleep the first few nights and stuff. It was a good message."

The Marlins have kept Stanton in their thoughts throughout, and they have hung his No. 27 jersey in their dugout.

"That was awesome, too. That was really cool," Stanton said. "I've seen it done before, but you never think your jersey would be there. The support from the team has been unbelievable."

Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward, who wears a protective guard on his helmet after being hit in the face by a pitch, also reached out to the Marlins star. Heyward gave Stanton advice on what kinds of foods he could be eating, as well as some words of encouragement.

Stanton's goal was to play in all 162 games, but his season was cut short at 145. He paces the NL in homers with 37, and he has also driven in 105 runs.

"I obviously wanted the full season," Stanton said. "This is a little different situation. If it would have been a muscle or something that has been previous, I would have been extremely upset about it. This isn't one of those things in the ballpark of what I put in my mind. I'm not as worried about it. I would have loved to. This is a little different."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.