Since hitting a homer and a double in his first two games after returning from the IL on June 2, Giancarlo Stanton has gone into a tailspin at the plate, something that’s been all too frequent — especially over the last year.
The Yankees hoped Stanton’s return to the outfield would help provide a spark, but it didn’t.
Stanton, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the Yankees’ 10-2 loss to the Mariners on Thursday night, is just 3-for-31 with 16 strikeouts in his past 12 games.
With Aaron Judge on the IL, where he was joined by Willie Calhoun on Thursday, the Yankees have had to get creative with their outfield combinations.
For the first time since returning from his strained hamstring, Stanton played defense on Thursday night.
He did not commit an error in the Yankees’ sloppy three-error night.
Aaron Boone said he hopes it doesn’t remain a rare occurrence.
Asked how often he planned on playing Stanton in the field, Boone said, “I don’t know. Hopefully it remains in play throughout the year.”
Stanton has often said playing the outfield helps keep him more engaged in the game than when he’s the DH, but Boone said he believed the slumping Stanton would regain his form at the plate, even if he’s a full-time DH.
“[Playing the outfield] helps him athletically, from [avoiding] injury standpoint and slightly from an engagement standpoint,’’ Boone said. “But I’m confident if he was the DH the rest of the way, he’d get through it and start really hitting.”
Over the course of his career, Stanton has an overall OPS of .887, with an .838 OPS as a DH.
There have been very few signs Stanton is about to turn it around offensively.
He hit his last home run at Citi Field against the Mets on June 13. Over the past six games, Stanton is just 1-for-23 with a pair of walks and 11 strikeouts.
Despite their contrasting styles at the plate, Boone said there were some similarities between Stanton and DJ LeMahieu, who went 0-for-4 in his return to the lineup after sitting for three straight games to work on his swing.
“They’re very different hitters, but Giancarlo is always talking about rhythm and timing,’’ Boone said. “I see the load [in his swing] and how he gets started [and] how his hands move and get in position.”
That was apparent in his first two games off the IL, when Stanton started off hot against the Dodgers.
“I felt in LA, he had it,’’ Boone said. “He had results, but also, every swing in those two games out there, it felt like he was on time. If he gets in a good position and makes good swing decisions, he’ll be on time.”
So far this season, Stanton hasn’t walked as much as he typically does, with a 5.7 percent walk rate, by far the lowest of his career. And he’s pulling the ball more than at any other part of his career, which has taken away some of his effectiveness as a hitter that has previously taken advantage of the entire field.
“You’ve just to ride these things out,’’ Boone said.
The Yankees have been waiting for one of Stanton’s hot streaks for a while.
Following a strong first half that earned Stanton an All-Star bid, he hit just seven homers and had a .582 OPS in his final 34 games last season.
And this year, there’s been little production since his injury.