Stanton day off, Yeli hitting fifth

SAN FRANCISCO — Giancarlo Stanton, mired in a 4-for-25 road trip, was given a breather on Sunday in the Marlins’ series finale with the Giants at AT&T Park.

Stanton has one homer, five RBIs and struck out 11 times in the first six games of the road trip, which started at Washington and moved to San Francisco.

It’s the first time since May 18, 2014 (also at San Francisco) that Stanton was not starting when he was healthy. He did miss the final few weeks of 2014 after being struck in the face by a pitch at Milwaukee on Sept. 11.

Actually, manager Mike Redmond talked with Stanton a few days ago about possibly taking Sunday off. The Marlins are in the midst of a 10-game, three-city trip. They open a three-game set at the Dodgers on Monday.

“I talked with G four or five days ago, just planted the seed,” Redmond said. “Looking at the schedule, this looked like it would be a good day. Not thinking otherwise.”

Stanton is available to pinch-hit, and play, if necessary. In 31 games, he’s batting .248 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

The road trip has been a struggle.

“With him, sometimes he will get out of his strike zone,” Redmond said. “It happens with all hitters, not just him. Sometimes it’s good to just take a day, and let them sit back and relax. We’ve done that with a few guys.

“Give him a mental break, and get him back in there tomorrow. It’s tough to get him out of the lineup. He has the ability to hit a home run every time. But at the same time, too, we need him for the long haul. We need him fresh.”

With Stanton out, Ichiro Suzuki played right field, and batted third for the first time since May 29, 2012, when he was with the Mariners.

* Left fielder Christian Yelich on Sunday was in the fifth spot for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old had always hit either first, second or third when he’s started.

Yelich, who came off the disabled list on Friday after being out with a lower-back strain, is 9-for-53 (.170) in his first 13 games. He opened the season batting second, behind Dee Gordon.

Martin Prado has stepped up in the second spot, and Redmond wants to keep the Gordon/Prado combination together.

“I talked with him about it,” Redmond said. “He’s going to be fine. He needs to play. He needs to get at-bats. He’s been off for a couple of weeks. Hit him a little bit lower, get him going, and we’ll figure out where the best spot for him is going forward.”

The Marlins envision Yelich moving to the middle of the order as his career progresses. Hitting fifth should enable him to drive in more runs, and not be primarily a table-setter.

“That’s no big deal,” Yelich said. “I don’t care where I hit in the lineup. That doesn’t bother me.”

Yelich actually was going to hit in the fifth spot on April 20 at Philadelphia. But before the lineup was announced, he was scratched due to his strained lower back. He was placed on the disabled list.

“I have so much confidence in him as a player in any situation,” Redmond said. “He just needs to go in there, keep getting at-bats, and get himself going.”

Redmond hasn’t ruled out hitting Yelich fourth. The team is committed to batting Stanton third, otherwise, Yelich is a candidate to bat there as well.

“Yeli can hit anywhere. He can hit fourth, too,” Redmond said. “I would have no problem hitting him in the cleanup spot, or three.”

* Pregame Sunday, Yelich met former Giants slugger Barry Bonds. Bonds, a high school teammate of Marlins bench coach Rob Leary, was on the field chatting.

“I watched him growing up,” Yelich said of Bonds. “We were mostly, hanging out, talking.”

Joe Frisaro

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