Dietrich just ‘Letting it fly’

'Let if fly" tattoo displayed on Derek Dietrich's left arm.

‘Let if fly” tattoo displayed on Derek Dietrich’s left arm.

LOS ANGELES — Aside from not getting much sleep, Derek Dietrich had a pretty enjoyable big league debut.

Due to injury, the 23-year-old second base prospect had to make a trip from Jacksonville to San Diego on short notice. The flight was worth it because he was in the starting lineup on Wednesday, and he promises to remain there, at least until Donovan Solano returns from the disabled list.

In Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the Padres at Petco Park, Dietrich singled in his first big league at-bat, a line drive to right field off Jason Marquis.

He also was immediately tested at second base. San Diego’s leadoff batter, Everth Cabrera, scorched a liner right at Dietrich, who handled the hot shot, to open the bottom of the first inning.

“That helped, actually,” Dietrich said. “Getting that first line drive, making the play. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better to get things rolling.”

The single to open the third inning also got his first hit out of the way.

“That’s kind of how you dream about it, getting it going right off the bat there,” he said. “Just going in, I felt great, I felt comfortable right from the get-go. No nerves. I was pretty surprised. It felt like just another day playing baseball, but on a bigger stage, and a great group of guys.”

The Marlins lost the game but they began the process of grooming one of their top young talents. Dietrich is Miami’s No. 8-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.

Acquired from the Rays in December for Yunel Escobar, the plan initially was to give him about a half a season at Double-A Jacksonville. That changed late Tuesday night when Chris Valaika fractured his left wrist.

Valaika will need four to six weeks for the bone to properly heal. So he could be out two or more months.

After Valaika’s injury, Dietrich received a call about 2 a.m. ET to head to the West Coast. At 6 a.m., he was on a plane headed for Atlanta to make his connection to San Diego.

With the Suns, he was mostly being used at second base, but he did play about five games at third. The Marlins will have some tough decisions to make when Solano returns from his left intercostal strain.

“Actually, the last five games I’ve played [at Jacksonville] were at third base,” Dietrich said. “But I’ve played mostly second base until recently. I feel great out there at both positions. I just want to get in the lineup, and hit. and help the team defensively however I can help the team.”

Dietrich comes from a baseball family. His grandfather is former big leaguer, Steve Demeter, who also coached and managed in the Minor Leagues.

His grandfather was Dietrich’s baseball mentor.In early February, Demeter passed away.

During Wednesday’s game, on the scoreboard in San Diego, they noted a couple of facts about Dietrich, who possesses the skill of juggling multiple baseballs at one time.

“One time they mentioned juggling, which was pretty cool,” Dietrich said. “The other time they said, ‘He is the grandson of former Major Leaguer, Steve Demeter.’ “

A few years ago, when Dietrich was a sophomore at Georgia Tech, he had a tattoo made on his left wrist that reads, “Let it fly,” advice he often received from his grandfather.

After Demeter passed away just prior to Spring Training, Dietrich updated the tattoo to include the dates of his grandfather’s birth and death.

“I think about him every time I step on the field,” Dietrich said.

Joe Frisaro

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