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Yelich tempers expectations as games begin

Yelich tempers expectations as games begin

JUPITER, Fla. -- If history could repeat itself, Christian Yelich would have no complaints. He isn't banking on it, or worried about it.

What Yelich did last Spring Training was the stuff of video games. He paced the Marlins with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 22 games. He added three doubles and a triple, while batting .364 with a .451 on-base percentage and an .818 slugging percentage. His OPS was an eye-popping 1.269, compared to Giancarlo Stanton's 1.153.

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Stanton also had a remarkable spring, batting .359 with three homers and eight RBIs in 39 at-bats.

Basically, Yelich had a Spring Training career year.

"I don't know if that will happen again," the 22-year-old left fielder said. "You can have a good spring, but that was literally one of those where you step on a baseball field, and you couldn't do a single thing wrong. Everything just went right -- homers, doubles. It was stupid. I don't know how to describe that."

For Yelich, the difference now is that he isn't a long shot prospect simply looking to impress in camp. Now, he is the everyday left fielder, who projects to bat second in the lineup.

Last year at this time, Yelich was in big league camp basically to get a taste of what the experience was like. He knew no matter how impressive he was, he was destined to start the year at Double-A Jacksonville.

This spring, he is striving to launch his career and become an impact regular. Even though he didn't make his MLB debut until after the All-Star Break last July, he had enough at-bats to qualify as a rookie. In 62 big league games, he batted .288 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Less