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A year after bad bounce broke nose, changed fortunes, Dietrich working towards spot with Marlins

VIERA -- Derek Dietrich doesn't want to talk about the bad hop that broke his nose and changed his fortunes last spring.

In fact, he doesn't really want to talk about last season at all. That's when the door was open for him to try and cement a place with the Marlins and he  failed, hitting .228 and making 10 errors after starting the season as the primary second baseman with Rafael Furcal injured.

"This is a new season," he said last week. "I've moved on from that [bad bounce to the face] and I don't even want to address that anymore. That's something I couldn't control. It's not even in my mind anymore."

The only thing on Dietrich's mind this spring: finding a spot -- any spot -- on the Marlins roster.

With Dee Gordon firmly in place at second base, Dietrich, 25, is trying to become an infield utility man for the Marlins, working mostly at first and third base. He's starting for the Marlins at third today against the Nationals.

"He's just learning," Marlins infield coach Perry Hill said. "Third [base] he's picking up okay. First [base], there's a lot of little nuances he's got to learn, still has to iron things out. His value to him and to us would be to play all four [infield spots] in the National League."

Before the bad bounce last March 20, Dietrich's defense wasn't much of a concern. He made just two errors in 258 chances (57 games) for the Marlins as a rookie in 2013.

After the bad bounce, it was a different story. He made 10 errors (six fielding) in 202 chances at second last season and it eventually forced the Marlins to plug-in the more sure-handed Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas. The one time Dietrich played third for the Marlins last season -- all of 2 2/3 innings -- he made a throwing error the one time a grounder went his way. 

"I think it took him awhile to get over that. I think he would tell you the same thing," Hill said of the bad bounce which broke Dietrich's nose. "But he's looked really good this spring. He's handled everything really well."

Hill said Dietrich has had a great attitude towards the Marlins asking him to play different positions. 

"He works hard," Hill said. "He takes his balls every day at the different positions. We keep him after [batting practice], take him to the Bone Yard, smooth things out mainly at first base now. That's probably his workest area right now. But the other day in Minnesota he played real well. He's handled everything real well."

A former shortstop and 2010 second round pick out of Georgia Tech, Dietrich said he feels comfortable at third base because he has had some experience there. He's never played first base, though, until now.

"Third base I played on the USA Team in college," he said. "My grandfather was of course a major league third baseman so I started taking balls there at a young age. I played a lot of shortstop so I know that side of the diamond. When you get down to it, even first base, a ground ball is a ground ball. There's some quirks and footwork around the bag. Other than that, it's been a pretty comfortable transition, just getting the work in every day.

"I'm here to make the Major League club -- whatever I can do to help this team at this point. I'm not even thinking about the minor leagues. I want to help this club, make this team. If it's there, then I'll do whatever they ask of me to help this team."

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