Derek Dietrich spent his first six MLB seasons as a utility man and never received regular playing time.
His career high was 16 home runs, and he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason with hopes of surpassing that number with more regular at-bats.
Not only did Dietrich surpass 16 home runs, but he did it just two months into the regular season. The now-super-utility man smacked three home runs Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates to give himself a new career high of 17.
The day before, Dietrich hit a booming home run against the Pirates and took time to admire it.
Derek Dietrich has more sauce than anyone in baseball history pic.twitter.com/WvhuqADker
— Noah Clement (@Rocky_BalNoah) May 29, 2019
Pirates broadcaster John Wehner clearly isn’t a fan of that violation of the “unwritten rules” of baseball.
Wehner talked about it Tuesday on “The Fan Morning Show” on Pittsburgh’s KDKA-FM.
He first called out Dietrich for admiring his home runs and slowly trotting around the bases — and then took things to another level.
“I can’t stand him,” Wehner said on the radio show. “I just don’t see why — I don’t understand why you have to do that. It’s different if you’re a Hall of Fame player, you’re a 60-homer guy, you’re an established guy. Nobody ever heard of him before this year.
“I heard of him because of his grandfather (Steve Demeter), who used to be a minor league coach for the Pirates. He was the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. He’s rolling in his grave every time this guy hits a home run. He’s embarrassed of his grandson.”
Embarrassed of his grandson? Not only is that an over-the-top personal attack, but it’s also dubious.
Demeter surely would be proud of Dietrich and his 17 home runs in just 118 at-bats, which put him in elite company.
Since 1961, that is the seventh fewest at-bats needed for a player to reach 17 home runs in a season. Dietrich is in the company of such luminaries as Barry Bonds (116), Albert Pujols (112) and Mark McGwire (93).
Whether or Dietrich’s grandfather would be proud of him, Cincinnati fans sure appreciate of the Cleveland native, as they demanded a curtain call after his third homer Tuesday.
Dietrich doesn’t intend on changing.
“I’m going to keep playing the way I play,” he said Monday night, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think everyone should play the way they play. I’ve got no problems with it. … I’m just coming to play ball and hit the ball hard. We’re having fun and trying to win. This is baseball.”
The “having fun” part apparently is what got Wehner bothered, but plenty of fans and players, including Phillies slugger Bryce Harper, would prefer it if the game had more fun injected into it.
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