MINNEAPOLIS -- Though Giancarlo Stanton took three trips to the plate as a designated hitter during Tuesday night's All-Star Game, finishing 0-for-3 with a popout, flyout and strikeout, his All-Star legacy did not budge. Stanton's presence here will always be defined by the 510-foot explosion he generated in Monday's Home Run Derby, and there was little he could have done Tuesday to alter that.
From the 41,048 fans packed into Target Field, to the hundreds of media members in attendance, to the 68 players in the dugouts, folks were still talking about the Derby blast that looked for a moment as if it might leave the stadium altogether. Stanton may have even generated more water-cooler talk than Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, who actually won the Derby.
"The Home Run Derby stuck out the most for me," Stanton said.
In that sense, Stanton's power highlighted an entertaining All-Star week for him and fellow Marlins representative Henderson Alvarez, who was on the National League pitching staff but did not appear in Tuesday's game.
"I understand what I'm capable of," Stanton said, acknowledging the effect his power has on others. "That's the point of it all, to have fun."
For Stanton, Tuesday's fun involved soaking up the atmosphere surrounding Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game -- "There won't be another player like him," Stanton said -- and challenging himself against the best pitchers the American League has to offer. Stanton popped up in his first at-bat against Boston's Jon Lester, then narrowly missed squaring up a Chris Sale fastball to fly out in his second plate appearance.
"I was just a click off," Stanton said. "I came up just a click early. This is a game of inches, so if you're not right on it, that's going to happen."
After striking out in his third at-bat against Oakland's Scott Kazmir, Stanton's first All-Star experience was complete.
"It's incredible," he said. "It's something I'll never forget. I had a wonderful time here."
All-Star fun, Stanton hopes, will breed success the rest of the way for the Marlins, who need their youngest, brightest stars to shine if they want to make a surprise run at the playoffs. That means Stanton, the principal star on an improving Marlins club. It also means Alvarez, whose cheerleader role in the All-Star Game could not spoil that fact that he still was, by definition, an All-Star as well.
If the Marlins are to continue their improvement for the rest of the summer, recovering from their recent rough stretch to climb back into the playoff race, those two will both need to play significant roles.
"It's still a young team, and with young teams, you have to learn and develop throughout the season," Stanton said. "The ups and downs in the big leagues are much different than the ups and downs in the Minors, so you've got to take that grace period of hitting those road blocks sometimes. The team has done that here and there, so we've just got to push through it."