Stanton returns day earlier than expected

Stanton returns day earlier than expected

Stanton returns day earlier than expected
MIAMI -- The Marlins have hit the fewest home runs in the Majors in September. On Friday, they welcomed back some pop to the lineup.

Giancarlo Stanton, who has been dealing with a sore left intercostal muscle, was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 16 and batting cleanup against the Phillies when the Marlins opened their final homestand of the season.

"Hopefully he stays there for the final series here in Miami and hopefully he can get to 35 home runs," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game.

Stanton reached that 35-homer plateau in the fourth inning, belting a solo shot. His return to the lineup comes a day earlier than anticipated. Guillen said Thursday in Atlanta that the team would rest Stanton for the series opener against Philadelphia with hopes of having the slugger back in the lineup Saturday.

Stanton has missed 39 games this season between injuries and regular rest days, but has still managed to hit 35 home runs -- second in the National League.

"This kid has had a tough year -- a few injuries, missing a lot of games, but he put a tremendous year together," Guillen said.

Stanton was hurt by missing a good portion of Spring Training, and then got off to a slow start in April before coming on strong in May and earning NL Player of the Month honors. Stanton missed most of July and the start of August after knee surgery and then was sidelined for nine games with the sore intercostal muscle. Guillen remains hopeful that Stanton will be able to get adequate rest in the offseason and come into Spring Training without anything slowing him down next year.

"The biggest thing about him is he's a big kid," Guillen said. "He's going to have some issues. His body -- this kid is a grown man. The body is going to suffer a lot, and he plays hard, diving for balls, running a lot. There's a lot of things against him, but stay strong and hopefully next year in Spring Training, [he's healthy]."