Stanton on Hitting Tanaka: 'As Long As He's Okay, I'm Okay'

Max Goodman

The line drive off Giancarlo Stanton's bat that struck Masahiro Tanaka's head on Saturday was hit so hard that if you blinked, you might've missed it. 

In Stanton's eyes, however, the comebacker registering at 112 mph happened in slow motion. 

"I mean as fast as it happens it's more slow-mo I'd say for me," he recalled. "You want that ball to keep veering off and it didn't."

Stanton pounced on a pitch from his teammate in a simulated game, ripping it back up the middle. Although he was willing it to tail off and whistle past Tanaka, he knelt in the batter's box as it hit the right-hander, sending him crippling to the dirt. All he could do in that moment was hope his teammate was alright. 

"That was a scary moment for me," the slugger said on Monday. "You never want to see your teammate on the ground, especially by the hand of yourself."

Taking a baseball to the head is something Stanton is all too familiar with. Back in 2014, when the slugger was a member of the Miami Marlins, he famously took a fastball to the face from right-hander Mike Fiers. Stanton said that his mind flashed back to that moment and he knew exactly what Tanaka was going through.

"I'm just glad that he was awake and functioning and responsive right off the bat, throughout the evening and the next day," he said.

Tanaka was released from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Saturday evening just hours after he lay motionless on the mound with trainers and members of the coaching staff huddled around him. 

READ: Tanaka in 'Good Spirits' After Getting Hit in Head By Stanton Shot

New York revealed all symptoms Tanaka was experiencing in the moments after he was hit have since dissipated, disclosing the right-hander was diagnosed with nothing more than a mild concussion. 

The Japanese star has been in the Yankees clubhouse in the days since the injury as well. On Sunday, Tanaka was spotted among his teammates – Brett Gardner said the hurler was acting "like his normal self." 

More good news came on Monday as Tanaka rode an exercise bike for approximately 15 minutes, experiencing no symptoms as his heart rate rose, skipper Aaron Boone said. 

Yankees' left-hander J.A. Happ also has experience with comebackers on the mound. The southpaw took a line drive off the skull in 2013.

"It was really good to see him walk out under his own power and just to see him sort of bounce back is pretty incredible," Happ said after throwing a few innings in the Yankees first intrasquad game of Summer Camp on Monday evening. "Those things can go the other way so you feel for him but, you know, fortunately I think he was pretty, pretty lucky."

As for Stanton's health, after suffering a Grade 1 right calf sprain during fielding drills in Spring Training, the slugger explained that he returned to feeling 100 percent recently. That said, the plan is to start the season in two-plus weeks at designated hitter.

READ: Adding a Universal DH Will Bring Giancarlo Stanton Back to MVP Form in 2020

"We're gonna go through camp, make sure that we've got the schedule lined up to be ready to DH and go from there," Stanton said. "With the season being so short, it's really a one stop shop of getting it right. So, I think we have a good schedule down and good formula to get a right."

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