Derek Dietrich doesn’t mind a little pain. He also knows how to fake it.
Whether or not he was actually struck by a pitch Tuesday is something only he knows for certain. The home plate umpire ruled that the pitch from Arizona’s Jake Barrett grazed Dietrich’s right wrist. Dietrich reached for his elbow, as if it had absorbed the blow.
The Diamondbacks argued that the pitch actually struck the knob of his bat, near his wrist.
“It was very odd,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “We’ll just leave it at that.”
Replays weren’t conclusive.
Dietrich took his base. The Marlins capitalized when the very next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, stroked the go-ahead single in the sixth inning of a 7-4 victory.
“He should get an Oscar for that,” said one Marlins player.
If central casting is looking for help, Dietrich is their guy on the Marlins. The Marlins are just hoping their human pin cushion can fill in adeptly while Dee Gordon serves his 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.
Dietrich will now play an important role in Gordon’s absence. He’ll receive the bulk of the playing time at second base (he was at first base on Wednesday due to an injury to Justin Bour).
“It’s unfortunate for the team,” Dietrich said of Gordon’s suspension. “But I’m just going to prepare the same way and be ready to help the club every single day.”
While Dietrich doesn’t possess Gordon’s speed, defensive tools and ability to hit for a high average, he does give the Marlins a different dimension.
He hits for power.
And he also has a knack for getting hit by pitches, which bolster his on-base percentage.
He’s been struck by pitches four times already this season, which leads the Marlins. His 34 career plunkings ranks him ninth on the Marlins’ all-time list, and puts him within range of Alex Gonzalez’s franchise-leading 51.
Perhaps more impressive: of all major league players, only Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer is hit more frequently than Dietrich. Since 2014, Guyer has been hit, on average, once in every 17 plate appearances Dietrich: once in every 19 plate appearances.
Dietrich crowds the plate, which enable him to gain full extension on outside pitches. But it also leaves him in a vulnerable spot.
“It’s not something guys really want to take pride in,” said Frank Menechino, the Marlins’ assistant hitting coach. “You don’t feel good” after being struck.
Bour was examined by a hand specialist Wednesday after dislocating his left pinky the night before while sliding into the bag.
But Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the early results look promising.
“We feel like we’ve kind of dodged a bullet,” Mattingly said. “It’s on his glove hand — his top hand — which is less important in hitting than his bottom.”
X-rays taken after the game didn’t reveal any fractures. Bour said after returning home following Tuesday’s game, he swung a broomstick to get a feel for the injury.
“It’s just going to be one of those things where I’ve got to keep the swelling down,” Bour said. “I think it’s one of those things where I’m just going to keep ice on it and see where we are in a day or two.”
The Marlins have no plans of placing Bour on the disabled list, at least at the moment. Dietrich started at first base on Wednesday.
▪ Suzuki said he was nervous when he was sent up to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in Tuesday’s sixth inning.
“I think I peed in my pants a little bit,” Suzuki said, joking.
Suzuki wasn’t so nervous that he didn’t deliver the game’s biggest hit, a two-run single that gave the Marlins the lead. For the record, it was career hit No. 2,947 for Suzuki. Just ahead of him on the all-time list: Willie Keeler, who ranks 32nd with 2,955 hits.
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.67) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (1-1, 4.97), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-1, 4.26) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (4-1, 1.44), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.