In the limited time that he has received thus far in the season, Miami Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich has been solid with the bat. In three games, the 24-year-old has gone 3 for 7 with an RBI and a .600 on-base percentage.
However his problems have been as a fielder, which is unlike him. Dietrich committed only two errors in 502 1/3 innings as a rookie last year. Yet he has committed the same amount of errors in 25 innings this year.
When asked about this, Marlins manager Mike Redmond hinted that his early defensive struggles is linked to the broken nose he suffered late in spring training. In a late spring training game with the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami native and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay hit a ground ball hard that hit Dietrich in the face and knocked the sunglasses off him.
"Maybe it's residual to getting hit in the face in spring training," Redmond said.
"Defense is just like offense," he continued, "it's about confidence. Sometimes you make a mistake and a ball takes a bad hop. Sometimes it can get in your head."
His defensive miscues are not without controversy. In Sunday's 4-2 home loss to the San Diego Padres, Dietrich committed an error on a routine grounder from Padres outfielder Tommy Medica. That would've been his third error of the season, but his agent initiated a review that transfered the error to his teammate, first baseman Garrett Jones.
He said he was unaware about his agent's doing and denied having anything to do with it. He also vowed that such an act "won't ever happen again."
Dietrich has been platooning with utility infielder Jeff Baker and has only appeared on the lineup when facing a right-handed pitcher. He did not appear in the Marlins' 5-0 loss to lefty Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals but will be batting second against righty ace Jordan Zimmermann. The Marlins will be facing another right-handed ace in Stephen Strasburg on Thursday so it can be expected that Dietrich's bat will be in the lineup for that game too.
As for the glove, Dietrich continues to work with infield instructor and first base coach Perry Hill before each game. The jitters from that freak injury in March will eventually pass and he'll be back to his old, smooth fielding self in short time.
"I'm not worried about him," Redmond said. "He's a confident kid and he just needs to go out there and play a clean game of defense and he'll be fine."