In 2014, Derek Dietrich was Miami’s starting second baseman on Opening Day.
In 2016, he may just open the season in left field.
For the past few weeks, Dietrich has been the Marlins’ starting left fielder.
The 26-year-old Cleveland native has impressed the Marlins with not only his versatility but his willingness to switch positions to stay in the lineup.
“I actually brought him in today, let him know how proud I was of the way he’s taking to that,’” manager Dan Jennings said before Wednesday’s game against the Mets.
“He’s out there working hard during batting practice, coming out early with [coach] Brett Butler. His jumps have been fine, the ball is going in the glove. For him, he understands the importance of being versatile and he’s willing to do what it takes to stay in the lineup.”
Dietrich was sent to the minors earlier this season after making 11 errors in 49 games. At Triple-A New Orleans, he buckled down, charged with two errors in 56 games.
Dietrich also started playing some outfield in New Orleans and with the help of Butler, he sure hasn’t looked out of place.
“I’m going out there trying to prepare pitch-by-pitch and think with the hitters and the pitch coming,” Dietrich said. “I’m trying to be a step ahead to give myself and advantage.
“I’ve always been able to play a few positions so anything to keep my bat in the lineup. I’m trying to play quality defense, have some good at-bats for the club.”
Making the jump from being a utility infielder to a big-league outfielder has taken a toll on Dietrich’s bat, however.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Dietrich was in a 3-for-22 slump during this homestand. He did have one big hit, however, as his solo shot Friday in the ninth inning tied the Padres in an eventual 8-3 loss in 11 innings.
Dietrich did get Miami’s first hit Wednesday night, lining a double down the first base line.
Jennings doesn’t think it will take long for Dietrich to get his bat working again. The Marlins are trying to find ways of keeping that bat in the lineup and had him batting second behind Dee Gordon on Wednesday.
“He’s a winning player, has the right mindset,” Jennings said. “He’s going to be part of this moving forward and this will be good for him and good for us. He’s worked his way back because of his willingness to try different things and do the work to get better.”
On Thursday, the Marlins visit Atlanta, which will be only the second road park Dietrich will have played the outfield. Dietrich first made the move to the outfield when Miami was in San Diego last month.
The Marlins’ nine-game homestand concluded Wednesday.
“The infield never changes; the dimensions are always the same,’” Dietrich said. “When you go into the outfield — sometimes the foul areas and fair territory —are different depending on the park. You have to learn about the quirks of each park, where the ball comes off the wall and take that into account and do your best.”
The Marlins brought up lefty Chris Narveson from New Orleans on Wednesday and hope the 33-year-old can give them some long relief.
Narveson hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013 with Milwaukee. Narveson, who made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, spent five seasons with the Brewers and is 26-18 with a 4.65 ERA.
Narveson made 62 starts for the Brewers from 2009-12 and spent last season pitching in Japan.
Miami sent lefty Chris Reed back to the Zephyrs to make room.
In 12 appearances for New Orleans and Jupiter (Single A), Narveson struck out 39 in 37 1/3 innings and had a 4.58 ERA. Narveson was brought to Miami with the thought he could give the Marlins relief from the pen before he hurt his left elbow in spring training.
“We felt we needed some protection in the bullpen innings-wise and [Narveson] has been stretched out in Triple A,” Jennings said. “He’s been battle-tested in the big leagues and we brought him to camp thinking he would fight to be the long-man out of the pen, but he got hurt.”
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (1-5, 4.37 ERA) at Braves RHP Matt Wisler (5-2, 4.44), 7:10 p.m.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (4-0, 2.13) at Braves RHP Julio Teheran (7-6, 4.59), 7:35 p.m.