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."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”