JUPITER, Fla. -- Derek Dietrich now has more than just Cleveland ties to LeBron James. The two share a common bond in both having protective face masks designed by the same person.
Dietrich, the 24-year-old Marlins infielder competing for a roster spot, fractured the top of his nose on Thursday. On Friday, he was fitted for a clear mask similar to what James recently wore with the NBA's Miami Heat.
"I don't know what the feelings are on LeBron these days in Cleveland," Dietrich said, "but that was a pretty cool mask that he got to wear. The same individual that made mine made his."
Dietrich has joked with the Marlins media relations department about coming up with some marketing gimmick with the Heat and James.
"We need to get something there," Dietrich said. "Miami Marlins. Miami Heat. Cleveland guys. We both had to wear a mask."
In Dietrich's broken-nose scenario, he appears to have escaped a more serious setback. If Dietrich keeps progressing, the left-handed-hitting infielder could be back in a Grapefruit League game on Monday.
"As soon as he gets that mask and sees how it fits and feels for him, he should be available to play," manager Mike Redmond said. "Probably on Monday, I'd think."
Dietrich will wear the mask in the field, not when he hits.
Dietrich took batting practice on Saturday morning but didn't take any ground balls.
Dietrich was picking the mask up on Saturday afternoon. If there is no issue with its comfort, he will start taking ground balls.
The Marlins are in Lakeland, Fla., to face the Tigers on Sunday, so he will not make the long trip. The Nationals are in Jupiter on Monday.
Having to wear a mask for about a week has made Dietrich the target for some practical jokes. When the infielder arrived at the clubhouse on Saturday, a catcher's helmet was placed in his locker.
"I didn't even look at my locker, and they said my mask was here," Dietrich said. "I said, 'Really?' I was supposed to get it today. I'm going to pick it up. Stuff like that is what keeps this clubhouse so close. I think that's why we're going to have an even better season and surprise some people."