JUPITER, Fla. — Tough to fault Derek Dietrich for not wanting to re-hash certain parts of his 2013 rookie season. He was a protagonist in a clubhouse culture fiasco that ultimately cost first-year hitting coach Tino Martinez his job.
Not only does Dietrich not want to dredge up those events, he's not interested in recapping the particulars of his campaign ending on a physical downer. An oblique injury contributed to Dietrich not returning to the big league club in September. It also precluded him from participating in the Arizona Fall League as planned.
"This is a new season," Dietrich said. "That's what happened in the past. I would just like to concentrate on the positives. Getting here, being here in spring training with these guys, kind of starting in a new direction with the team. I think we're on the right track. Last year was last year. No one really wants to talk about that anymore."
Specifically about the Martinez flack and how he's been received, Dietrich added: "Awesome. That's old news. I don't think anyone has even brought anything up. That's in the past. I love the clubhouse we have. We're looser this year. (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) is doing a great job leading the guys and keeping it loose. He's a World Series winner and you watch these guys go about their business and how they interact with their other teammates, staff, trainers and you can learn something from all these guys. I'm just trying to take it all in, learn as I go."
The Marlins hope to learn a few things about Dietrich as well this spring. Namely, is he more suited for second or third base? The Marlins will give him time at both positions. He was a shortstop at Georgia Tech, but Dietrich had no issues shifting to the other side of the diamond.
An injury to Donovan Solano last May prompted the Marlins to summon Dietrich from Double-A to fill in at second. He proved himself capable defensively and showed plenty of pop at the plate. Only Giancarlo Stanton (24) and Justin Ruggiano (18) hit more homers for the Marlins than Dietrich (nine).
"Down the road it just depends where we're going to need him, if it's going to be at third base or second," manager Mike Redmond said. "If he hits, he'll make you find a spot for him. Right now we want to see what he can do at those different positions. Maybe he is a third baseman or maybe he is a second baseman for us. That's what we're trying to figure out.
"Anytime you take a guy that came up as a shortstop and you start moving him to second or third, you're not sure how that's going to go. We saw that second base was a fairly easy transition for him. It's like anything. If you hit you force us to find a spot for you. That's the bottom line."
Dietrich hit safely in each of his first five games at a .400 clip (8-for-20). Though Dietrich went just 38 for his next 195 (.195) before his demotion, 18 of those hits went for extra bases. His first 215 big-league at-bats yielded a lackluster .215 average and .275 on-base percentage. He did slug .405. Only four qualifying National League second basemen - Chase Utley, Jedd Gyorko, Neil Walker and Daniel Murphy - slugged more than .400 in 2013.
"To be able to drive the ball at that position, second base, shortstop, that's just an added plus," Dietrich said. "That's something I've always been able to do, so I think that definitely benefits me, but you got to play good defensively. I definitely surprised myself (last year) but I knew I had it in there. With (infield coach Perry Hill's) help I'm just going to get better and better. It's exciting. My confidence is high and I'm really looking forward getting all the chances I can to help this team."