MLB slugger is changing his name

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MLB slugger is changing his name

From Comcast SportsNet
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - His mom calls him Cruz. Teammates call him Bigfoot. Most baseball fans know him as Mike Stanton, precocious slugger for the Miami Marlins, but his first name is actually Giancarlo. "The man of a million names," Stanton said. He likes them all, but with spring training cranking up and Stanton touted as a future home-run champion, he said Wednesday he prefers Giancarlo. For the first time, that's the way he's identified on the Marlins' roster. That's also the name on his paycheck and above his locker. That's what team owner Jeffrey Loria calls him. But Stanton's dad calls him Mike, and many of his relatives call him Mikey. "I respond to many names," he said. "It's all good." The Marlins expect to see his surname in a lot of headlines this year. He has 56 career home runs, and in the past 40 years only Ken Griffey Jr. (60) and Alex Rodriguez (56) have hit at least that many before their 22nd birthday. Stanton turned 22 in November. "This kid has potential that's unbelievable," new manager Ozzie Guillen said. The Marlins' cleanup hitter and right fielder is thickly built at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds - thus the nickname Bigfoot, which dates to his year at Single-A Greensboro. In two major-league seasons he has developed a reputation for mammoth homers, and his batting-practice sessions tend to draw a large audience of teammates and opposing players. Guillen said he's not interested in tape-measure homers. "I told Stanton, I hear you hit balls 700 feet. Don't give me 700 feet. Just give me 40 that barely make the wall,'" Guillen said. Stanton said he doesn't care how far his homers travel. Last season he hit 34 while batting .262 with 87 RBIs. This year he'll play in a new ballpark for a team with a much higher profile - and a new name. So the timing of a name change for Stanton makes sense. His full name is a sonorous mouthful: Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. He's not Italian, and Giancarlo isn't a family name - his parents just liked it. In school, the California native went by Giancarlo (pronounced JEE'-ahn-cahr-loh) until the fifth grade. "No one could pronounce it right," he said. "Everyone thought it was two words. Gene-carlo, Juan-carlo, Gionne-carlo. You have seven periods in school, so seven times a day: No, that's not the name.'" So he switched to Mike. "It was just easier," he said. "If you can't pronounce that, then there's something wrong with you." Many friends still call him Giancarlo, however. He uses that name for his legal signature, while on baseball paraphernalia he signs "Mike Stanton." But he notes that his scrawl is such that his "M" looks a lot like a "G." And teammates are starting to call him Giancarlo more often. "I told him he needs to have longer hair," catcher John Buck said. "When I think of Giancarlo, I think of someone with long, flowing hair, like Fabio. But if he keeps hitting homers, I'll call him whatever he wants me to call him."

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

SACRAMENTO -- The new-look Sacramento Kings stunned the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in their first game without DeMarcus Cousins. They look to make it two straight Saturday afternoon when Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets drop by Golden 1 Center for a 2pm matinee.

Welcome to the big leagues Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year big man went off for a career-high 29 points against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets last time out. Highlight reel dunks are becoming the norm for the athletic 7-footer as he tries to fill some of the void left by Cousins’ departure.

The Hornets are on a slide. Losers of 12-of-13, including an overtime stumble against the Pistons on Thursday, Charlotte sits 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

OPENING LINE
Hornets by 2.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Tyreke Evans vs. Nic Batum -- Evans will likely come off the bench in his second game back in Sacramento. The former top pick of the Kings is still playing himself into game shape after missing most of the first half of the season with a knee injury. He dropped in 15 points, three assists in four rebounds against Denver as a point forward. Batum is a versatile wing that loves to stuff the stat sheet. Walker is the primary scorer, but Batum is the player that make the Hornets go.  

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 25-33, third place in Pacific

Hornets: 24-33, fourth place in Central

INJURY REPORT
Kings: SG Arron Afflalo (hamstring) out, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, G/F Garrett Temple  (left hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Hornets: C Cody Zeller (quad contusion) questionable, C Miles Plumlee (calf) out, PG Ramon Sessions (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY
The Hornets swept the season series 2-0 last season, but Sacramento came away with a 109-106 win in the only matchup this year.  Charlotte holds a 13-11 lead in the all-time series between the two clubs.  

QUOTE
“We’ve got a very solid locker room. Even though a couple people aren’t there, guys have an opportunity to step forward in leadership and hug on each other and there’s lots of smiles and hugs right now and [we got] the first one out of the way. That’s a positive vibe to have just to come to work every day. So I think that’s positive.” -Dave Joerger following the win over Denver

 

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

MESA, Ariz. — In his heart, Liam Hendriks wanted to pitch for his national team in the World Baseball Classic. In reality, the A’s reliever just couldn’t justify it.

So Hendriks withdrew from joining Team Australia for its first-round games in Tokyo. He becomes the second Athletic to bow out of the WBC after left fielder Khris Davis decided not to play for Mexico. Relievers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic), and starter Sonny Gray (United States) are still slated to play, though Gray wouldn’t join the American squad unless it advances to Round 2 and Casilla still hasn’t reported to A’s camp because of visa issues, so his exact plans aren’t known.

“When I really sat down and thought about it, I’m not quite where I want to be to be pitching in competitive games yet,” Hendriks said Saturday morning. “I’m not hurt or anything like that. There’s no issues, I feel great physically. But it’s one of those things, I’m not quite ready to go into a game, and I know if I get into a situation where if I push it a little bit more, I’m going to overextend myself and I don’t want to do that. And I don’t want to risk this season coming up with Oakland.”

Hendriks told Australian officials he could be available for Round 2, but it will be a joint decision between how he was feeling and whether the Aussie pitching staff needs him.

The right-hander was originally scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League opener, in an effort to get him into game shape for the WBC. Now that he’s not playing in the first round, the A’s are slowing him down just a bit. Hendriks will throw on the side a bit more and then throw live batting practice before pitching in an exhibition.

“I could pitch in a game right now … but I’m not confident in all my pitches,” he said. “I’m confident in my spring training pitches, but it’s not midseason form like I’d want to be to be able to perform for that (Australian) team.”

The 30-hour round trip travel to Tokyo also complicated things, with Hendriks saying his throwing schedule would have been thrown out of whack upon his return.

Now 28, Hendriks pointed out that he got to pitch in the 2009 WBC as a wide-eyed 20-year-old, getting his roster spot because a veteran backed out. He’s hopeful another youngster now gets the same opportunity.

Hendriks posted a 3.76 ERA in 53 appearances last season, but pitched particularly well over the second half of the season, setting him up as an important piece of this year’s A's bullpen.

“It’s just a better decision for my career and my season,” he said.