Hot shot breaks nose of Miami Marlins’ Derek Dietrich

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Close call: </span>The Marlins believe a bruised Derek Dietrich should be able to return relatively soon.
Close call: The Marlins believe a bruised Derek Dietrich should be able to return relatively soon.
Courtesy of the Marlins

Derek Dietrich’s face looked as though he had stepped out of a boxing ring with Manny Pacquiao. His nose was broken, and a large, purplish knot the size of a golf ball had formed above his left eye.

Despite his appearance, though, Dietrich and the Marlins were breathing a sigh of relief after a bad-hop baseball struck the second baseman square in the face in Thursday’s game.

“Whenever you get closer to Opening Day, you cringe every time something like that happens,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.

Dietrich is listed as day-to-day, and the Marlins believe he should be back on the field in a relatively short time, albeit with a protective mask covering his injured face.

“I got lucky,” Dietrich said. “He hit that pitch pretty hard. That was a bullet — one-hop right off my noggin.”

With Rafael Furcal nursing a hamstring injury, the Marlins were already facing the prospect of possibly having to start the season with a fill-in at second — either Dietrich or Donovan Solano.

And that isn’t the only question mark heading into the March 31 opener.

The Marlins still have not decided on their fifth starter for the rotation — either Tom Koehler or Brad Hand — with the loser likely ending up in the bullpen as a long reliever. Hand will make another start Saturday.

Other teams have been calling the Marlins about their pitching surplus and whether they’re interested in trading any of it.

But the Marlins haven’t listened to any offers that have interested them and are perfectly willing to open the season with both Hand and Koehler on the staff.

A source also contradicted a media report that the Marlins might be looking to trade Jacob Turner as one way of resolving the logjam.

If anything, Hill said he is pleased that for the first time in a great while the Marlins will be sending major-league-caliber players back to the minors in order to whittle the roster down to 25 players.

“It’s going to be tough for whomever it is to go back [to the minors],” Hill said.

“But it’s no secret. We used 53 players last year. We’re going to need them all [at some point]. And it’s a nice feeling to know that you have major-league-ready guys playing for you in the minor leagues. We haven’t had that in quite a while.”

Thursday’s game

Marcell Ozuna, who has struggled at the plate for most of the spring, broke a tie score with a solo home run in the sixth as the Marlins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3.

Jose Fernandez made his next-to-last start of the spring, allowing three runs over six innings. The Cardinals scored all three of their runs off Fernandez in the fifth.

Fernandez struck out eight and walked two.

Injury update

Furcal, Greg Dobbs and Ed Lucas all swear they will be ready and able to play when the Marlins open their season March 31. Whether the three injured players truly are remains to be seen.

While Lucas (left hamstring) returned to action Thursday by appearing in a minor-league game, receiving four at-bats as a designated hitter, the others remain on the mend from leg injuries of their own.

Furcal (left hamstring) and Dobbs (quad) took part in batting practice and the usual litany of pregame drills, but they are at least several days away from playing in an actual game.

It’s possible the Marlins could put Furcal on the disabled list to start the season, retroactive to March 21. That would make him available to come off the DL on April 5.

Lucas had two hits in his game and put his legs to the test by scoring from first on a double.

Coming up

•  Friday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi at Houston Astros RHP Scott Feldman, 1:05 p.m., Kissimmee.

•  Saturday (split squad): Marlins LHP Brad Hand vs. New York Mets RHP Bartolo Colon, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.

•  Saturday (split squad): Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez at Washington Nationals RHP Doug Fister, 1:05 p.m., Viera.

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