May 19, 2024

Former power-hitting infielder returns to Yankees in a new capacity after MLB suspension JUPITER, Fla. — Amidst the pregame rituals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Monday, Derek Dietrich was spotted behind home plate, reaching through the netting to sign autographs for fans, wearing a Yankees cap pulled low over his head. For observers in Jupiter, it was reminiscent of Dietrich’s presence during the early-to-late 2010s at spring training.

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Dietrich, now 34, still retains his muscular physique, muscles bulging under a tight athletic T-shirt, adorned with a noticeable chain reflecting the South Florida dusk.

However, this iteration of Dietrich is different. Nearly two years after serving a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball due to a banned substance, effectively halting his quest for a return to the big leagues, Dietrich has transitioned into an advisory role within the Yankees’ player development system.

“My unique position is culture and accountability coordinator,” Dietrich shared with NJ Advance Media on Monday. “We have very skilled experts in every part of this organization. I’m just trying to help bridge the gap with our players, whether through communication or through on-field and off-field experience.”

With over six years of MLB service time starting in 2013, Dietrich brings a wealth of experience, having played in 1,343 games including a decade in the minor leagues.

Dietrich’s responsibilities include working with hitters in the cage, aiding defensive development through his positional versatility from his playing days, and leveraging his passion for weight training and sports performance to optimize players physically.

Throughout the season, Dietrich will split his time between the Bronx and various Yankees affiliates, while also spending time at the player development complex in Tampa. His two seasons in the Yankees’ minor-league system as a player provide him with a solid understanding of the organization’s operations and the evolution of the game from traditional methods to modern analytics.

Embracing his new role, Dietrich views his suspension as a “blessing in disguise,” a mistake from which others can learn. He emphasizes the importance of accountability, aiming to guide players by sharing his own experiences.

Fans may remember Dietrich for his flashy style on the field, but within the Yankees’ organization, he is valued as an instructor and positive presence in the clubhouse.

Anthony Volpe, the Yankees’ shortstop, expressed admiration for Dietrich’s impact during his time with Double-A Somerset in 2022, highlighting Dietrich’s commitment to his teammates despite his suspension.

Dietrich remains optimistic about the Yankees’ prospects for the World Series this year, aligning with his personal goal of winning a championship ring. While his playing days may be over, Dietrich approaches this new chapter with enthusiasm, eager to contribute to the team’s success.

“I don’t consider myself retired,” Dietrich remarked. “I just feel like I switched positions. I’m still on the field, just have a new position. I’m enjoying my life every single day. I’m eager. I’m hungry. I can’t wait to get up and get to the complex, get out on the field with the guys and serve them… Winning a World Series is what New York Yankees fans deserve, and I feel like I came on board at the right time because we’ve got special things happening here with this roster. It’s gonna be a good year.”

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