It’s a marvel that Giancarlo Stanton had his face destroyed by a baseball pitch in 2014 and still has a career in the sport. He’s not even a shadow of himself, but still a powerful, sometimes overly aggressive hitter who now wears a c-flap on his helmet for added protection. In the second game of Monday’s Yankees-Tigers doubleheader, Stanton batted against Mike Fiers, the pitcher who severely injured him, and it somehow didn’t end with them becoming friends.
Fiers got the better of Stanton in the second inning by striking him out, but in the third, the pitcher tagged the Yankees outfielder in the arm with a two-seamer that got away from him. Given that the HBP loaded the bases with the game tied, Fiers didn’t look pleased to do that, just like he didn’t look pleased in 2014 when he left Stanton in a stretcher (and also hit Stanton’s stand-in Reed Johnson on the next pitch, prompting the benches to clear). Nonetheless, Stanton stared him down as he walked to first, and Fiers raised his hackles as Tigers catcher James McCann played peacekeeper.
Stanton got “revenge”—insomuch as a homer in a loss can be revenge—in the sixth inning when he crushed Fiers’s breaking ball into left field for a solo shot. The Yankee made sure to stare at the pitcher as he ran to first, and pointed at Fiers as he crossed home. After the game, both players spoke their truths:
“I mean, if that happened before and you’re gonna come in, make sure you don’t hit me,” Stanton said following the Yankees loss, which snapped a five-game winning streak that had been extended with a 7-4 win in Monday’s opener. “You’ve got to get it over the plate or make sure you don’t hit me.”
That was Stanton’s message to Fiers, who called Stanton’s reaction “childish.”
“Anybody watching the game knows I’m not throwing at him,” Fiers said. “He’s going to act how he’s going to act, but it kind of shows his character. Obviously, I wasn’t throwing at him.”
“Obviously, anything like that happens, another ball like that, no matter how many years it is, I’m not gonna be happy,” Stanton said. “I’m not just gonna walk to first and everything will be OK.”
It’s somewhat understandable for Stanton to resent a player who could’ve ended his career with one pitch. He’s been hit by a pitch 17 times since Fiers fractured his face, but perhaps being hit by a pitch by that guy triggered something in his mind. This could be the end of it until Fiers loses control of his pitches again, or maybe these two will pick up the next time the teams play on Aug. 30. Baseball players have a long memory.