The clock is ticking on Dee Gordon’s return to the Marlins and, in turn, Derek Dietrich’s transition back to being a part-timer.
Although Gordon’s first minor-league rehab game in New Orleans was rained out Monday, the second baseman’s return from a 80-day drug suspension remains set for July 28.
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What happens then in terms of playing time for Gordon and Dietrich remains somewhat uncertain, as the Marlins have to figure out how to incorporate Gordon back into the lineup while keeping Dietrich sharp.
Should the Marlins reach the postseason, Gordon would be ineligible.
“I can’t tell you that I have an ironclad plan about how we’re going to do it,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
But Mattingly said he doesn’t intend to insert Gordon into the everyday lineup the instant he returns.
“It will be more of a blend than just a throw him into the fire,” Mattingly said of Gordon, who won the batting and stolen bases titles last season while also capturing his first Gold Glove. “Obviously, he gives us a dimension we don’t really have a ton of as far the guy that can create runs on his own, and what he does at second base, things like that.”
Dietrich has filled in well in Gordon’s absence. He began the day Monday with a .295 batting average, .385 on-base percentage, and had committed just one error since May 29.
“I wouldn’t feel cheated,” Dietrich said of being sub-planted at second. “I feel like I’ve proven to myself that I can play every single day at second base as a major-leaguer. Dee’s a great player, and he’s a great player for our club, and we’re definitely going to use him when he comes back.”
Since Dietrich has played multiple other positions — third base, first base and left field — it gives Mattingly additional flexibility when making out his lineup. And with Gordon ineligible for postseason play, Mattingly just can’t let Dietrich sit and rust on the bench.
“That’s the thing we have to balance moving forward,” Mattingly said.
Dietrich said he will continue to show up to the ballpark “business as usual, ready to play second base everyday. Once Dee comes back, we’ll see how that role changes a little bit. I guess we’ll see once we get there. I’m just trying to stay in the moment.”
In a Twitter post that has since been deleted, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich vehemently denied being the person shown engaged in a sex act.
“A false and defamatory video was tweeted about me in the past 24 hours,” Yelich wrote in a tweet that was later deleted. “It is 100% not me in the video. My attorneys are looking into it.”
A video surfaced on Twitter containing an online sex tape in which a comment suggested Yelich was the person involved. That Twitter account, along with the tape, has also been deleted.
J.T. Realmuto didn’t suddenly grow a howitzer where his right arm should be.
But he is throwing out would-be base stealers like never before. Realmuto’s caught-stealing percentage has jumped from 27 percent last season to 46 percent this year.
“Honestly, more than anything, the pitching staff has done a great job of holding runners on, being quick to the plate, and giving me a chance,” Realmuto said.
The tandem of Realmuto and backup catcher Jeff Mathis ranks fifth in the majors in throwing out basestealers, nabbing them 40 percent of the time. Last year, the team ranked 24th with a 25 percent success rate.
According to Realmuto, Marlins infield coach Perry Hill deserves much of the credit. Realmuto said Hill alerted Mattingly and pitching coach Juan Nieves during spring training that holding runners was an area in which the Marlins could improve.
“He was the guy who was here last year, seeing how big of jumps guys were getting, how we were slow to the plate,” Realmuto said of Hill. “He was the one who saw it every day and was pushing to the pitching coach, and to Donnie, that we fix that this year. And they did. We made it a focus of doing a better job of that. It’s paid off so far.”
▪ Tuesday: Marlins (TBA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.32 ERA), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 4.90) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 4.03), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.