MIAMI -- Adjusting to the big leagues remains a relatively new experience for Marlins rookie second baseman Isan Diaz. Still, the 23-year-old is quite familiar with the Brewers.
Diaz was one of the core players Miami received in the trade that sent Christian Yelich -- who suffered a fractured right kneecap on a foul ball in the first inning and will be out for the rest of the season -- to Milwaukee. And on Tuesday night at Marlins Park, Diaz made his presence felt by his former organization, collecting two hits and driving in two runs in a 4-3 loss to the Brewers.
The Brewers sealed the victory on Tyler Austin’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning off Adam Conley, and they’ve taken the first two contests in the four-game series.
In 32 big league games since being promoted from Triple-A New Orleans, Diaz certainly is going through his share of growing pains. The left-handed-hitting second baseman is batting .158 after going 2-for-4 vs. the Brewers.
“Isan, for me, he’s going to hit,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “As long as he continues to do the work, and continues to keep getting better and understanding what he’s trying to do, he’s going to hit. He has a good swing. I’ve said it a lot. He sees the ball good. All the elements are there for him to hit. What we’re seeing right now are pieces of it, not consistently.”
Diaz also enjoyed a two-RBI game, giving him 14 RBIs since his first big league promotion.
“At first, you look at it and it's like, 'What am I doing wrong?’” Diaz said. “Now, I’m actually really trying to study my [at-bats], and just try to come up with a better plan and have better [at-bats]. Today was a good note. Try to build off that.”
Facing the organization that dealt him to the Marlins adds a bit of extra adrenaline for Diaz. He also knows he’s been scrutinized a little more closely because he was part of the Yelich trade. On Jan. 25, 2018, Miami acquired Diaz, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto for Yelich.
On Tuesday night, Yelich and the Brewers were dealt a serious blow with the injury to the reigning National League Most Valuable Award winner, who is a top contender for the honor again this season.
“We saw it. We heard it. It was loud,” Diaz said. “As soon as we saw he couldn't stand up, we knew he was hurting. I've been there. I know what that feels like. It's not a good feeling. Wish him the best of luck and hope he gets back soon.”
Diaz made the leap to the big leagues after a strong season at New Orleans, where he hit .305 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs. Since being called up, he’s slashing .158/.260/.237 with two home runs and 14 RBIs.
“Teams are reacting to what he's done so far,” Mattingly said. “He has to want to make the corrections. And Isan has been pretty realistic, in my mind. He said to me the other day, 'You know, I really have been getting myself out.’ ”
Diaz had an RBI double off Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson in the second inning, and he also delivered a run-scoring single that closed Miami’s deficit to 3-2 in the fourth.
“I felt like lately I’ve been a little too patient, letting a lot of strikes go by,” Diaz said. “Letting the pitcher get ahead.”
Diaz, drafted by the D-backs in 2014, was in the Brewers organization in ’16-17. During his tenure in the organization, he was a Minor League teammate of Trent Grisham, Tyrone Taylor and Jacob Nottingham, all currently on Milwaukee’s roster.
The Marlins envision Diaz as their second baseman of the future. His two run-scoring hits on Tuesday are reminders of his upside.
“I'm feeling more comfortable and am trying to make adjustments at the plate,” Diaz said. “I'm really trying to just simplify things. I'm trying to do my best and just show that I'm making improvements.”