NEW YORK -- LeBron James' exit from the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers has removed arguably the biggest name in sports from South Florida.
"That's huge," Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. "Obviously, it's the biggest thing in sports, for a while. It takes a lot of guts to do that. I know he wanted to go home. It means a lot more to do that, and win in a place you grew up, rather than just one of the teams you ended up on."
The Marlins feel they are an up-and-coming team, and Stanton is the squad's biggest star, and now perhaps the most imposing athlete in South Florida.
Stanton is set to compete in the Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Minneapolis.
Before Stanton feels he is the face of sports in the South Florida market, he points out that the Marlins have to do their part and start winning consistently.
"We've got to start winning," he said. "Let's see it. We've got to be something now. I don't know what the future is for the Heat in terms of that.
"[The fans] need something to look to, some winning franchise, something exciting. Right now, it is our job to fill that. I don't know how long it will take. It's the closest thing that we can do."
Stanton never met James, but he attended a number of Heat games and enjoyed watching one of the all-time greats.
"I never really got to see [Michael] Jordan in his prime," Stanton said. "It was something I wanted to make sure I went and watched LeBron every time I could. I can now look back at it and say, 'I saw the best player in the world multiple times.'"
Stanton has plenty of star power, and the Derby is a chance for him to showcase his immense home run power. On Friday at Citi Field, the slugger took some early batting practice with manager Mike Redmond, who will throw to him in Minnesota on Monday.
Stanton belted some homers into the second and third decks at Citi Field.
Asked if he wants to win the Derby, Stanton responded: "It's competition, man. If I wanted to stand and look pretty, I'd just take selfies all day, post them up."
Struggling Cishek uses off-day to refocus
NEW YORK -- A round of golf on Thursday helped Steve Cishek clear his mind before the Marlins braced for their final series of the first half.
Cishek surrendered three runs in the 10th inning in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Arizona, taking his third blown save of the season.
"That last game in Arizona was probably one of the toughest ones for me to get past, just because we had a two-run lead," said Cishek, who entered Friday with 20 saves this season. "I had a hard time with that one."
The Marlins were off on Thursday, and Cishek, along with several teammates, played golf at the Bethpage State Park black course.
"It was good to have the off-day," Cishek said. "I got to play a little golf to get my mind away from baseball a little bit. Take some frustration on some little white golf balls."
On the mound, Cishek has struggled in recent outings with command of his slider. He noted that his arm slot is off with the pitch. So instead of relying on his fastball and slider, hitters are zoning in on the fastball.
"I'm not driving [the slider] like I usually do," he said. "I'm kind of falling off, trying to make movement before it's even out of my hand. Overdoing stuff, basically, instead of trusting it. All that stems off me keeping my line to the target a lot better than it has been."
Physically, the Miami closer is fine. His velocity, actually, has been increasing, as he is now throwing 94 mph with his deceptive sidearm delivery.
"I feel fine," he said. "It's just a lack of executing, really."
• A.J. Ramos, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, is expected to throw an inning in a rehab-assignment game for Double-A Jacksonville on Monday. The hope is the reliever will be ready to come off the DL immediately after the All-Star break.
• Second baseman Derek Dietrich (right wrist strain) took 10 swings on Friday. There is no specific timetable for his return.