TAMPA — The Yankees witnessed in October what Giancarlo Stanton could do when he’s healthy and his timing is right.
The problem is that it has happened so infrequently during his time in The Bronx, thanks to extended absences due to injuries and setbacks.
Now, at 31 and with seven years left on his contract having declined an opt-out in the offseason, Stanton gets another chance to live up to the enormous expectations that came with the deal he signed with the Marlins and in his trade to the Yankees.
“I think we’re tired of looking around at the end of the year in that locker room and not being where we want,’’ Stanton said. “You don’t want those memories to continue year after year. We have to take that leap and get over that hump this year.”
Having Stanton in the middle of the lineup throughout the season would help.
“Always, the idea is to be out there battling with the team as much as possible to change that narrative,” Stanton said Wednesday from George M. Steinbrenner Field. “As well as … to just go out and do what I can and what I need to do to stay out there and not keep it as a thought all the time.’’
But it will be a thought until Stanton — similar to Aaron Judge — shows he can remain injury-free.
The glimpses he gave the Yankees in the playoffs, when he crushed six homers in seven games, have left his teammates and manager Aaron Boone wanting more.
Stanton admitted he has taken notes on what he was able to do in the Yankees’ otherwise disappointing playoff run last season to see how he can keep it up over the course of a season.
“What was in my mind and the preparation [I did] and continue it on to this year and keep getting better,’’ Stanton said.
So far, there have been no issues in camp, with Stanton taking reps in right field, as the Yankees test whether he could be an option on defense — despite having said he might be better off as a full-time designated hitter in an effort to preserve his body.
Stanton said he was all for the possibility of playing right field “during the season as much as the team needs.”
More importantly, they want to have him available to hit.
After playing 158 games and hitting 38 homers in his first season in pinstripes, Stanton has appeared in just 41 regular-season games over the past two years before playing in all seven playoff games last year.
That’s when he opened the eyes, once again, of guys like Luke Voit.
“It shows you he was MVP for a reason,’’ Voit said. “My gosh, the home runs he was hitting, they were light-tower home runs. They were impressive. If we can get him on the field, we know he’s gonna be unbelievable.”
Aaron Boone said he believes Stanton is more dangerous at the plate than when he was named NL MVP with the Marlins in 2017.
“We saw [in the playoffs] what I feel like, if he’d been healthy in ’19 and ’20, what we would have seen throughout those seasons,’’ the manager said. “If he can stay healthy, he’s gonna turn in a special season. I feel in a lot of ways, he’s a better hitter than when he won the MVP.”
Boone pointed to the work Stanton has done with his “approach and focus” as part of the “evolution of a great and talented player.”
None of that will matter, though, if he’s sidelined.
Stanton said his goal this offseason was to become “more dynamic to keep the strength as much as I can without being glued to the gym … [and] be prepared a little differently and see.”