Before Saturday's game between the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres, Marlins manager Mike Redmond said that new yet injured second baseman Rafael Furcal will soon go on a rehab assignment in their minor league headquarters in Jupiter, FL for an approximate max of 21 days.
This means that time is of the essence for Derek Dietrich to secure a longer stay in the Marlins active roster.
Even tough the recent free agent signings were stacked on top of Dietrich, he was given every chance in March to make the roster out of Spring Training. In 50 at-bats (sixth most among Marlins) he hit .320/.386/.500 and drove in ten runs.
Although it may have taken an injury to Furcal and utility infielder Ed Lucas to push him in the roster, Dietrich doesn't believe that he needed outside circumstances to make it to Opening Day with the Marlins.
“I don’t look at it like that, Dietrich said. “I look at it like I earned this spot and I can help the team every day.“
Dietrich was originally in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system as a shortstop but was traded to the Marlins for Yunel Escobar and made his MLB debut last year as a second baseman. With the recent offseason additions, he made learning a new position the focus of his winter work.
“More of my work this offseason was on the field because I was going through the position change of maybe playing some third base," said Dietrich.
As far as hitting, Dietrich is already physically built for power. He may have only hit .214 in his rookie campaign last year, but his nine home runs in just 215 at-bats still leaves the hope of a eminent breakout campaign. To reach that, his offseason regimen focused on the ever so simple yet simultaneously complex mental aspect of hitting.
“Jedi mind tricks,” Dietrich said. It’s really breaking it down pitch-to-pitch, staying in the moment and being focused on this pitch whether it’s on defense or whether you’re hitting. You can’t think last pitch or two pitches ahead. You have to be in the moment. Other than that, you see it and you hit it, kind of like that old adage.”
Or as his old Jedi Master would say: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Dietrich, a left handed hitter, is currently being utilized by Redmond exclusively as the starting second baseman when the Marlins are facing right handed starting pitching. Redmond then puts Jeff Baker in the lineup against lefties.
He made his season debut on Wednesday against RHP Jordan Lyles and the Colorado Rockies and went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. He's back on the lineup Saturday against the Padres and their ace Andrew Cashner.
Even if there's the reality that he's on borrowed time, Dietrich isn't acknowledging it. His goal is to play his way to being a main stay for the Marlins.
"I'm here to stay and I'm here to help the team every single day," he said.