WASHINGTON -- A promising 5-2 homestand to open the year gave the Marlins a big boost of confidence. How the young club responds against National League East rivals, however, will dictate how its season goes.
The road was not too kind to the club in 2013.
The Marlins went 26-55 in away games last season. They also must make improvements against NL East rivals. They went 29-47 in the division last season.
"We've got to play better within our division," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's great to play outside your division, but the same time, too, we know we're chasing the Braves and the Nats. Those guys have been dominant within this division. We know we have our work cut out for us. But at the same time, we have a new group of guys. Hopefully, we can go out there and see where we're at."
The six-game road trip takes the Marlins to Washington and Philadelphia.
"You've got to beat teams within our division, and we play these guys 19 times," Redmond said. "We can't run. We know we're going to face these guys. These guys and the Braves have been the best in the division. We know we have our work cut out for us.
"The key is, you've got to pitch. If we pitch, and give ourselves a chance to score some runs, we're going to be in good shape."
Errors catch sure-handed Dietrich by surprise
WASHINGTON -- Derek Dietrich is as surprised and disappointed as anybody about a couple of errors he's already committed at second base to start off the season.
"I'm disappointed in myself a little bit," Dietrich said Tuesday. "It's not how I play defense. I'm usually pretty solid out there."
In Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Padres at Marlins Park, Dietrich committed an error on San Diego's Tommy Medica's routine grounder. It didn't lead to a run, but Nathan Eovaldi had to face two more hitters in the second inning.
Dietrich has committed two errors in 25 innings this year. As a rookie in 2013, he made two errors in 502 1/3 innings.
"I've got to just get back to the basics," he said. "I kind of feel like I was rushing a little bit lately. I just have to be a little more aggressive to the ball, but under control, and just kind of smooth it out a little bit. It is kind of unlike me. My defense has been pretty steady throughout my time in the big leagues and the Minor Leagues."
Initially, Dietrich was charged with three errors, but one was overturned by an MLB review. On a grounder by Tommy Medica, Dietrich's throw was was ruled his error. But the overturn gave the error to first baseman Garrett Jones.
Dietrich noted Tuesday that he was unaware the review was initiated by his agent, David Meter.
"I found out that was on my agent's part, without me having any knowledge," Dietrich said. "It's not what I'm about. I wasn't actually happy about it going to a teammate. I made sure I made it clear that won't ever happen again."
Dietrich has been platooning at second base with Jeff Baker. With the Nationals starting lefty Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday, Dietrich wasn't in the starting lineup.
Pregame, Dietrich continues to work with infield coach Perry Hill on the basics.
"It gets back to being aggressive to the baseball, but under control, so I don't have to rush," he said.
Limiting mistakes vital to Marlins' success
WASHINGTON -- Executing the little things looms big for the Marlins in their hopes to building toward being a contender.
The team lacks the firepower offensively to overcome too many mistakes.
Miami's has got off to a fast start at the plate. But as the season settles in, the club will likely be involved in plenty of close games.
In the Marlins' two losses on their homestand, they committed more than one error.
"Those are things we need to work out," manager Mike Redmond said. "We've talked a lot about eliminating our mistakes, offensively, defensively, and pitching as well. Really, that's the key from an average year to a great year. We have to make the plays.
"We talked about that all spring, 27 outs. We're not going to be able to be good enough to give teams more than that. The nights that we do, we're probably going to be in trouble. We have to make the plays. That gives us the best chance."
The miscues are not just in the field. Already, a few pitchers have been unsuccessful dropping sacrifice bunts.
"Offensively, we have to situational hit," Redmond said. "We've got to be able to drive runs in. That's the key. That's something we've struggled with in the past."
• Giancarlo Stanton feels quite at home playing at Nationals Park. The 24-year-old slugger had belted 13 home runs in his career at Washington entering Tuesday, by far his high at a visiting stadium. Stanton has 33 homers at Marlins Park, and he hit 22 at Sun Life Stadium (Miami's former home). Behind Nationals Park, Stanton's next high for homers is seven at Coors Field and Citi Field.
• As of April 1, the Marlins featured the third-youngest active roster in the Majors, with an average age of 27 years, 262 days. Houston has the youngest roster (27 years, 126 days) followed by Atlanta (27 years, 255 days).