After dealing Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich this offseason, the Marlins’ outfield situation is up in the air as they gear up for the 2018 season. Club manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that veteran infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich is “penciled in” as the starting left fielder, though no other decisions regarding the outfield appear to have been made yet.
Dietrich, 28, agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million deal to avoid arbitration with the Marlins last month. This will be his sixth consecutive season with the club, and just the second in which he’s expected to get the bulk of his starts in the outfield. He racked up a career-high 103 starts at third base in 2017 and slashed .249/.334/.424 with 13 home runs in 464 plate appearances.
While the rest of the outfield is “wide open,” per Mattingly’s comments, there are any number of rookie outfielders who will get the opportunity to make a favorable impression in camp. Center field prospect Lewis Brinson has just 16 major league games under his belt, but impressed in Triple-A Colorado Springs last year and has the versatility to play all three outfield positions. Magneuris Sierra and Braxton Lee could also fill in center and right field, respectively; Sierra has the proven speed and defensive chops needed for a full-time role in the outfield, while Lee showed promise after breakout performances in Double-A Montgomery and Jacksonville.
Matt Carpenter pulled his weight and then some during the Cardinals’ 18-5 win on Friday, becoming just the second player in MLB history to tally three home runs and two doubles in the same game… and the first-ever to do so in the first six innings of a single game.
Carpenter wasted little time getting the Cardinals on the board, first drawing a full count against Cubs lefty Jon Lester, then ricocheting a 92.4-MPH fastball off the scoreboard in right field for a leadoff home run. He returned in the second inning for another two-run shot and capped a seven-run spread in the fifth with an RBI double (his first double of the game was a leadoff hit in the fourth) before polishing off his performance with a third, three-run homer in the sixth.
Following Friday’s explosive five-run, seven-RBI performance, Carpenter is now batting .274/.381/.576 on the year with 23 home runs, 30 doubles and a .957 OPS in 388 PA. The last player to record five extra-base hits in one game was the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who collected four runs and six RBI for the team back in June 2016. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch pointed out, Carpenter might have set another franchise record for most home runs in a game had interim manager Mike Shildt not removed him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. The record is still held by former club outfielder Mark Whiten, who collected four home runs (and a staggering 12 RBI) against the Reds in September 1993.