McKeon reflects on time with Stanton, Cabrera

McKeon reflects on time with Stanton, Cabrera

McKeon reflects on time with Stanton, Cabrera
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Success in the big leagues comes with sacrifice and dedication.

Jack McKeon tried to instill that in two of the most gifted players ever to wear a Marlins uniform -- Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton.

The 82-year-old McKeon happened to manage both sluggers early in their respective careers.

In June 2003, at age 20, Cabrera was promoted from Double-A. By October, McKeon had him batting cleanup in the World Series.

Like Cabrera, Stanton was 20 when he made his MLB debut, which was in June 2010.

McKeon became the Marlins interim manager in June 2011, replacing Edwin Rodriguez, and got to work closely with Stanton.

For Cabrera and Stanton, McKeon delivered a similar message -- work hard and stay focused.

"I never had any problem with Cabrera," said McKeon, a Marlins special assistant. "I stayed on him. If I saw him drinking in the bar or something, I'd say, 'Vamos!' ['Let's go' in Spanish]. I tried to explain to him, 'You've got a big future here. You have to pay the price.'"

The Marlins traded Cabrera to the Tigers during the Winter Meetings in 2007.

Cabrera made history this season, winning the Triple Crown while being named American League MVP.

The terse talk McKeon had with Cabrera, he also delivered to Stanton, who belted 37 home runs for Miami this year.

"I talked to Stanton," McKeon said. "I was like, 'Hey, you've got to pay the price in this game. You've got to work hard. You can't take anything for granted.'"

Cabrera and Stanton both possess tremendous power, but Cabrera is more of a pure hitter.

McKeon feels Stanton, however, has the potential to be a 40 homer/40 steals player.

"He had the quickest burst of speed than anybody," McKeon said. "No doubt in my mind he can steal 35, 40 bases."

McKeon feels Stanton can be a future home run and RBI champion. But to complete the Triple Crown, he isn't sure the 23-year-old can pull off the batting title.

Stanton batted .290 and he struck out 143 times in 449 at-bats in 2012.

"He's a good kid. I like Stanton," McKeon said. "A lot of guys who strike out a lot don't win too many batting titles. But on the other hand, I'd rather see him strike out 120 times and hit 40 home runs."

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.