Even though he started the season 2 for 14, Christian Yelich never felt like he was having bad at-bats.
Now, he says, he’s just finding holes. Yelich is as hot a Marlin as any at the plate, producing 16 hits in his past 43 at-bats to raise his average to .316 during a 10-game hitting streak.
More important, though, the Marlins’ 2010 first-round pick is showing signs of growth. Manager Mike Redmond pointed out how Yelich came back to the dugout following his first at-bat against Jordan Zimmerman on Monday, sharing his assessment of his pitches and how he was attacking — something every manager wants to see from his leadoff hitter.
“Previously it was kind of tough for me to go back and tell a guy this is what he’s doing tonight because he would say, ‘Hey man, you’ve got two at-bats against him,’ ” said Yelich, who played in his 75th big-league game Tuesday.
“Obviously when you face guys more, you kind of have a better idea of what their stuff looks like on their good and bad days, kind of what they’re doing to you. You feel more comfortable letting the other guys in the dugout know this is what he’s got going tonight and this is what he’s doing, let’s go get him. I’m starting to feel more comfortable doing that.”
Monday night’s 9-2 loss to the Nationals came awfully close to being much more painful had Yelich not yielded the way to Giancarlo Stanton while the two sprinted to try to catch a Jayson Werth fly ball.
Stanton made the grab for the out and then smiled at Yelich, who decided at the last second self-preservation was a smarter idea than crashing into his 6-6, 240-pound teammate.
“I heard him at the last second and saw out of the corner of my eye he wasn’t stopping,” said Yelich (6-3, 200). “So I kind of just peeled off. Self-preservation — otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here today. I would have been out there still.”
Yelich said Stanton joked with him after the game how everyone on the team would be wearing a C.Y. patch (Yelich’s initials) on their uniform Tuesday had there been a head-on collision between the two.
“It was close,” Yelich said. “We had a close one in spring training also. I’ve tempted fate a few times here. Hopefully it doesn’t become a frequent thing. The good thing is you kind of hear him running when he gets close to you. It sounds like a horse. You can definitely tell he’s coming.”
Yelich, who returns to left field tonight with Marcell Ozuna back in the lineup, has only started six games in center field in the big leagues. Redmond said he has no problem starting Yelich in center and that the ball Werth hit belonged to the center fielder.
“You always get a little bit nervous even though Yelly has played quite a bit of center field [in the minors],” Redmond said. “He hasn’t played a lot of in the big leagues, but you know he can do it.’’
• Redmond said the Marlins still haven’t decided what they’re going to do with Brad Hand’s spot in the rotation after his rough night Monday, but a decision could be announced Wednesday. Hand’s starts have lasted 3 1/3 innings and three innings.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (2-1, 3.78 ERA) vs. Washington Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (1-0, 5.91), 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park.