Third base might not be Derek Dietrich’s best position.
But it’s the one his grandfather — Steve Demeter — played in the majors and minors.
And it’s the one he’ll likely be playing on Opening Day.
With Martin Prado expected to miss the start of the season with a hamstring injury, the Marlins are expected to turn to Dietrich to handle the hot corner.
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It won’t be the first time the Marlins have thrown Dietrich into an everyday job. He was their Opening Day second baseman in 2014 and took over second base duties last season when Dee Gordon received an 80-game drug suspension.
Now he’ll be asked to fill in at third until Prado returns.
Manager Don Mattingly said that Dietrich and backup infielder Miguel Rojas will likely share time at third in Prado’s absence, with Dietrich receiving the bulk of the starts.
If it looks like Prado will miss extensive time, the Marlins might also explore the market — and the waiver wire, in particular — for stop-gap help at third.
Dietrich has seen some time at third, a position he learned at an early age.
“That’s where my grandfather played in his major- and minor-league career,” Dietrich said. “So I played there when I was younger. As a kid, I always wanted to play where he played, so I played there a lot.”
Demeter’s big-league career was so brief that he never got his own baseball card. But he was a major influence on Dietrich.
“He always gave me that advice to take ground balls all over [the infield],” Dietrich said. “I played a lot of short and third and, obviously, second.”
Dietrich filled in capably at second during Gordon’s suspension last season.
Though he lacks Gordon’s range, he handled the routine plays. And in his 24 games leading off, he hit .282 with a .411 on-base percentage — all solid numbers for a leadoff hitter.
Dietrich didn’t provide as much home run pop as one might have expected. But he attributed that more to his job of trying to get on base.
“My role was to get on base and fill in for Dee,” he said. “I hit .300 pretty much the entire time I was leading off. They know I can hit for power. I know I can hit for power. And I know that maybe one of my goals this season, is to hit for a little more power.”
Once Prado returns, Dietrich will head back to the bench.
“Right now, the opportunity’s going to be at third base, so that’s where I’ll be getting my work in,” said Dietrich, who easily handled three ground balls in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Astros. “I just want to make the routine plays, be dependable, and be consistent.”
Beefy first baseman Justin Bour and diminutive Gordon were good for a few chuckles on Tuesday when the two Marlins swapped uniforms for the morning workout.
“I thought I looked great,” said Bour, who could barely squeeze his 265-pound frame into Gordon’s pants and jersey.
Gordon is a pencil-thin 170 pounds.
Both players said it all started when Gordon decided he wanted to have his pants stretched out. And who better to do that than Bour?
The result was a comic clothing mismatch.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Scott Copeland at Mets LHP Steven Matz, 1:10 p.m., Port St. Lucie.