SAN DIEGO -- Another day, another Marlins top prospect gets the call-up from the minors to help fill a void created by injury.
Derek Dietrich, rated the Marlins' eighth-best prospect according to MLB.com, got the phone call he had been waiting for all his life at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday morning from Double A Jacksonville Suns manager Andy Barkett.
Less than 12 hours later, he's in the Marlins lineup, batting seventh and playing second base for manager Mike Redmond, who has spent his first three months on the job seeing more players go on the disabled list than anybody else in baseball.
By sending utility infielder Chris Valaika to the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a fractured left wrist the Marlins have now sent 12 different players to the DL this season (11 are currently there) -- more than anybody in baseball. Not counting Wednesday, the Marlins have lost a major-league leading 309 days of player availability. The Yankees are second with 269 according to the Marlins' sports information staff.
"It's been crazy," Redmond said before Wednesday's game against the Padres. "To see so many guys, at so many different positions. And we're not getting them back, which is the tough part. It's one thing to lose guys to injuries, but we're not getting them back on the field. Our pitchers have been down for months.
"We're hoping that eventually we're going to get some of these guys back. We've been piecing things together and playing shorthanded. I'm not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself or the team. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. It is what it is. We've got to keep going out there and playing, and fighting and battling, and doing the best that we can."
With Donovan Solano and Valaika going to the DL on back-to-back days, Dietrich, a 23-year old former second round pick of the Rays in 2010, will see plenty of action at second base over the next few weeks Redmond said. In his 28 games with the Suns this season, Dietrich was hitting .282 with four homers and 16 RBI. Dietrich said he spent the past five games playing third base, but saw the majority of his action at second this season.
He played all 13 innings of the Suns' loss Tuesday in Jacksonville and then took a 6:30 a.m. flight to Atlanta before getting on a cross-country flight to San Diego. He arrived at Petco Park this morning less than two hours before first pitch. His parents, whom he woke up in the middle of the night to break the news of his big league call-up, are making the flight over from Cleveland to watch his major league debut.
"I remember my Major League debut, I didn't sleep either, and I had a pretty good day," Redmond said. "He can take tomorrow off with the rest of us, and get some sleep and do whatever he wants.
"This is a great opportunity. He's one of those guys we look at as being part of the future. To get him up here and get him the experience is great. We'll see how he does. If he comes up and has success and does well, it puts a lot of pressure on other guys, and us to make a decision. Hopefully, that happens."
Dietrich, who said he got about two hours of sleep on his way to the stadium, joked: "I've probably got enough adrenaline to get me going at least through the week."
As for his play at second, Dietrich said he did get to work a little with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in spring training and doesn't expect to have any problems playing alongside him.
"He's a great, great defender, one of the best young shortstops in the game," Dietrich said. "I think he's probably going to make my job easier. With him out there it will definitely make things easy and smooth. I can't wait to play next to him."
> Redmond said trainers told him Valaika's fractured left wrist, which will not require surgery, will keep him out at least four to six weeks. "I don’t know if that’s just straight heal time and then build him back up or four to six weeks until he’s back playing," Redmond said.
Valaika, who was wearing a splint on his left forearm Wednesday, said the Marlins are letting him stay on the West Coast trip. He was looking forward to playing in Los Angeles later this week. He's from the area and had family and friends lined up to see his first trip back home in the majors.
"I was out there on the field last night and he came off the field and he goes, ‘Sorry, Red.’ I was like, ‘Sorry, man? You’re out there playing your ass off trying to make a play.’ It’s just unfortunate," Redmond said. "You feel bad for these guys because this is an opportunity he’s been waiting for forever and some fluke play happens like that and cuts it short. I was very happy with his effort and what he was doing out there. Hopefully he gets back and healthy and we get him going again.”
> Right-hander Alex Sanabia admitted Wednesday he probably would have kept pitching through the stiffness in his groin had it not been for veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, who insisted he get it checked out. With the Marlins having a day off Thursday and another on Monday Redmond said the team is considering going with a four-man rotation and skipping Sanabia's next start to give him time off. That's a decision, though, Redmond said the team hadn't finalized yet.
"It was smart that he came out when he did and probably prevented a long-term thing,” Redmond said. "As much as we can overcome the position player injuries, the pitching would probably be even more devastating.”
> Lost in last night's 5-1 loss and mess of injuries was a five-hit performance by the team's No. 2 prospect Christian Yelich, who doubled twice and homered in a loss. How soon could the Marlins see Yelich?
“That’s probably a better question for Larry [Beinfest], but obviously we like those guy a lot and they’re going to be a part of the future. As to when they arrive, I’m not sure. That’s probably a better question for Larry," Redmond said. "It depends probably on the health of our outfield and how those guys stay together. If another guy goes down, you see how it’s going. We’re running out of bodies. These guys would be next in line.
“He’s doing well. He’s going to be here. It’s just a matter of when.”
> Marlins (10-24): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 3. Placido Polanco 3B, 4. Marcell Ozuna RF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Greg Dobbs 1B, 7. Derek Dietrich 2B, 8. Miguel Olivo C, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.
> Padres (15-18): 1. Everth Cabrera SS, 2. Will Venable RF, 3. Chase Headley 3B, 4. Carlos Quentin LF, 5. Yonder Alonso 1B, 6. Jedd Gyorko 2B, 7. Nick Hundley C, 8. Alexi Amarista CF, 9. Jason Marquis RHP.