Derek Dietrich’s been a Marlin his whole career yet on the field he’s often been on the move.
A utility infielder the majority of his five major-league seasons, Dietrich has seen action at first, second and third base.
This year, the Marlins are looking to give Dietrich a more permanent home in their revamped outfield.
But that doesn’t mean just because Dietrich might be an everyday starter consistently for the first time in his career, the Marlins won’t keep him moving around.
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Manager Don Mattingly recently hinted that Dietrich, projected to be the Marlins’ starting left fielder to open the season alongside Lewis Brinson and Cameron Maybin, could also play some right field depending on the situation and could even see some shifting sides in the outfield even within an inning.
Mattingly said he wants Dietrich, who has only played left field in four major-league games to get as acclimated as possible to playing both sides of the outfield just in case.
“It’s something we want to be prepared for,” Mattingly said. “There’s been talk about it in the past and I think you have to be at least ready for it. It also depends who’s out there. If you have three premium defenders out there and they’re all good defenders. Not taking away anything from [Dietrich], but Cam [Maybin] and Dietrich, there’s a difference.
“We’ve talked a little bit about flipping him during an inning if it was a true situation where a guy will hit a lot more balls to left. I want to make sure Dietrich is comfortable in right field.”
Dietrich might still see time at third base or another infield position should the need arise during the season, but Mattingly said he’d primarily like to keep him playing in left field.
Dietrich is having a solid spring at the plate, going 10 for 30 with a pair of home runs. Dietrich said recently he has simplified his approach.
“It’s going to sound funny, but I’m just looking to hit hard line drives every single time I’m at the plate,” Dietrich said. “Take my best swing, hit a hard line drive, head-high through the infield. Obviously, you assess the situation and what you need to do, but as far as simplifying it, hitting hard line drives.
“[It’s] the value of the versatile player these days,” Dietrich said. “I’m watching around the league, they want guys to be versatile and be athletic, and play all over. That’s what I’ve always put myself in position to do, play multiple positions, keep my bat in the lineup. You can see the league is going towards that. Because I can play the outfield, I’m playing every day now. I just love playing baseball and I’m up to any task that helps the team win.”
It’s been a frustrating year since last March for Martin Prado.
After a 2017 season mired by injuries, Prado was nearing a return to game action when he suffered a setback in his rehab this week that will now force him to start the upcoming season on the disabled list.
Prado, who underwent surgery on his right knee last July, planned to do some hitting and throwing on Thursday, and hopes it will only take a few days to get back to full baseball activities.
Prado said he will take as much time as needed to get back to 100 percent to avoid a repeat of last season when he endured a pair of stints on the DL with hamstring injuries even before the knee issue surfaced.
“My main goal is to know that this last year is over,” Prado said. “I don’t want to risk having another year like that. I’d rather take a few more days than having another year like that. I’m just making sure I can play every day and find a routine and forget about all this [stuff] I have to do and just go do my workout each morning and go play baseball.”
Mattingly said rookie Magneuris Sierra would likely be held out of action for the next few days due to left hamstring tightness. Sierra exited Wednesday’s spring training game against the Mets early after he pulled up while running to first base.
Sierra, the Marlins’ No. 7 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline who Miami acquired in the trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for Marcell Ozuna, was likely to start the season in the minors, but projects as a strong candidate for a starting spot in the outfield in the near future.
Friday: Marlins RHP Sandy Alcantara vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.
Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena vs. Houston Astros RHP Charlie Morton, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.