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Dietrich embracing utility role

Intriguing player has power potential from left side of the plate
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- No one ever said making it in the big leagues is easy. Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich, in his first three Major League seasons, certainly has learned his share of lessons the hard way.

The 26-year-old has spent the past three years back and forth from the Majors to the Minors, learning new positions along the way. He has had his ups and downs, but he continues to push forward. Now, he could be a utility player who may eventually blossom into a productive regular.

JUPITER, Fla. -- No one ever said making it in the big leagues is easy. Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich, in his first three Major League seasons, certainly has learned his share of lessons the hard way.

The 26-year-old has spent the past three years back and forth from the Majors to the Minors, learning new positions along the way. He has had his ups and downs, but he continues to push forward. Now, he could be a utility player who may eventually blossom into a productive regular.

"For me, he's a valuable guy for us," manager Don Mattingly said. "We want to help him as best we can to be solid for us. His bat plays. He's a guy, to me, at one point, you never know, given the opportunity, he can be an everyday guy."

Where Dietrich stands is battling for a roster spot. He's prepared to roam around, working at first, second and third base as well as left field in Spring Training.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Complete info

Dietrich has spent most of his time at second (103 games), but Miami is set with All-Star Dee Gordon.

In time, Dietrich may wind up as the regular third baseman. Martin Prado is signed through this season. After that is to be determined. The door could be open for Dietrich if he shows he can handle the spot.

However things play out, Dietrich is being patient and doing his part to prepare.

"If this was an easy game, everybody would be playing it," Dietrich said. "If there wasn't any adversity, you'd get complacent, or you wouldn't get better. Everything that has ever happened to me, I've gotten better from. I've gotten better as a person, as a player, as a teammate, as a son, everything. Everything I've done, I've used it as an opportunity to get better, to learn something, and get better.

"Some of the things you wish had never happened, but, guess what? I got better because of them. Some people don't have that opportunity."

Dietrich remains an intriguing player because of his bat. He hits left-handed with power potential. In 196 big league games, he has 24 homers, including 10 in 90 games last year.

Video: ATL@MIA: Dietrich robs Cunningham with a diving grab

If he had 500 plate appearances, what would Dietrich's line look like? The Marlins may find out eventually. First, he has to establish a position.

Initially, Dietrich was at second base, but he has made 12 errors and has a .974 fielding percentage at the position. At third, he has committed five errors in 27 games. Last year, he appeared in left field in the 2015 finale.

"I would have never thought I'd be the Closing Day left fielder," Dietrich said. "I would have said, 'You're nuts,' just because I had never played there."

Dietrich is working daily with infield coach Perry Hill and outfield coach Lorenzo Bundy.

"I know I have a chance to help the club right from the get-go this year," Dietrich said. "Really, through my preparation, I'm putting myself in position to do so, from Day One."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

 

Miami Marlins, Derek Dietrich