It's not about how you start, but how you finish.
Miami Marlins rookie second baseman Derek Dietrich and fellow rookie right fielder Marcell Ozuna, despite being impressive in their first few weeks in the big leagues, have been in a slump of late.
The offensive struggles of the pair of late were most evident in Wednesday afternoon's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Miami was putting together a rally against their former closer Heath Bell, as Bell allowed the first two batters of the ninth inning to safely reach base. Ozuna and Dietrich were the next two batters Bell faced, and he was able to retire both.
Ozuna hit a fly ball to right field and Dietrich subsequently fouled out to the catcher.
"I thinking they're getting out of their zones a little bit, swinging at pitches outside the zone, which is what happens sometimes with young guys," manager Mike Redmond said of the two struggling rookies during a Miami Herald interview.
Ozuna is two for his last 29 and has seen a significant drop in his batting average and on-base percentage. Currently, his average is sitting at .283 with his OBP at .322. Those numbers appear satisfactory for a team that has, at times, had trouble scoring runs and hitting with runners in scoring position. However, considering Ozuna's average once was consistently above .300, it can be considered a slump.
Although it hasn't been mentioned, a possible reason for Ozuna's recent struggles at the plate could be because of his position in the outfield. Ozuna played right field before Giancarlo Stanton returned, however was asked to play center upon his return.
Ozuna has shown that he can play a solid center field, though extra defensive preparation could be leading to less emphasis on hitting.
Dietrich is in the midst of a 4-for-26 slump. He has shown that he can stay patient against left-handed pitchers, and is batting .212 with a .270 OBP.
Dietrich's power has kept him in the lineup, as he has belted six home runs thus far in 2013.
Redmond isn't bothered by the fact that the two rookies who were at one point batting third and fourth in the lineup are having a hard time at the plate. What troubles him is that none of the outs off the bats of Ozuna or Dietrich can be considered "productive".
"I think sometimes the focus can get on getting hits instead of having good at-bats and a good approach," Redmond said. "Guys focus too much on the result, and in turn swing at pitches they're not normally used to swinging at - or the opposite, where they're passive. With young players, that's kind of the growing pains."
Only time will tell the type of hitters Ozuna and Dietrich will be. The Marlins haven't felt the struggles because of the production the team is getting from Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Juan Pierre at the top of the lineup.