Cleveland native Dietrich feeling nostalgic

Infielder, who could play Saturday at Progressive Field, grew up an Indians fan

Cleveland native Dietrich feeling nostalgic

CLEVELAND -- Who would Derek Dietrich root for if his Miami Marlins faced off against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series? The answer is just as obvious now as it was in 1997 for the Cleveland native. Only the choice is different.

"I always watched the Indians growing up," Dietrich said. "If I was in the situation I am now, I would have rooted for the Marlins, but I grew up here, so I wanted the Indians to win. I do remember [Game 7]. I was a Cleveland fan for sure, so it was a tough loss to swallow."

The last time Dietrich stood on the infield dirt at Progressive Field, it was known as Jacobs Field, and Dietrich was a teenager competing for his St. Ignatius High School in the Division I state tournament. His return to the field in Cleveland, which will likely occur Saturday as the infielder comes back from a knee injury that's kept him out since Aug. 18, brings his baseball journey full circle in a way. It was on this very field that Dietrich's big league aspirations were reaffirmed.

"I remember the awe of being in a Major League stadium and playing as a teenager and having the feelings of, 'Man, this is really what I want to be doing. I want to play here one day, here or in general, in the Major Leagues,'" Dietrich said. "It will be a special moment to be out here in front of my family and friends in the stands."

Dietrich's presence at Progressive Field makes for a trip down memory lane. So does his reunion with right-handed pitcher Jake Esch, who was recently recalled from Triple-A and made his Major League debut on Wednesday. Esch and Dietrich were teammates in college at Georgia Tech, serving as the team's double-play combination for a season, with Dietrich at shortstop and Esch at second base.

"I never even saw him pitch, so now to be able to play defense behind him and watch him pitch is pretty neat," Dietrich said.

The pair were roommates for a season, as Dietrich majored in business administration while Esch pursued a civil engineering degree.

"He's one of the smartest guys I know," Dietrich said. "David Phelps is up there, but I think Esch might have the title ring on for the smartest guy on our team."

Worth noting

• The Marlins will join Major League Baseball and all MLB clubs in a league-wide effort to raise childhood cancer awareness by hosting Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day at Marlins Park on Sunday, Sept. 25. A pregame 5K run and an on-field pregame ceremony will take place to recognize and raise money for local pediatric cancer organizations. A resource fair will also take place, as well as the involvement of current patients in pregame ceremonies.

• Left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen and first baseman Justin Bour successfully completed a simulation game, as each work their way back from injuries.

• Outfielder Marcell Ozuna remained absent from the lineup with a sore wrist, which he injured on a diving play in the third inning of Miami's 5-2 loss against the Mets in New York on Wednesday. Ozuna appears doubtful to play in the Cleveland series.

August Fagerstrom is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Marlins on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.