Dietrich returns to Reds after being sidelined by coronavirus

The Cincinnati Reds added another potential power bat to their roster Wednesday with the addition of Derek Dietrich.

Dietrich, who signed a minor-league contract with the team in the offseason, was a curious omission from the club’s 60-man pool of players for the truncated 2020 season.

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He revealed Wednesday in a video conference call with team media he has been sidelined by a positive test for COVID-19, the disease cased by the novel coronavirus, while still Goodyear, Ariz., prior to the start of Summer Camp on July 3.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said from a hotel room in southern Ohio. “I had pretty much zero symptoms whatsoever. I had a day about one month ago where I was a little bit more tired than the norm. Probably because I was doing a lot of working out or something, so I just attested it to that. And really I would not even have known that I had COVID without the recommended tests that the the Reds put the guys through that were working out in Goodyear.”

While waiting to be cleared to return to play, the 30-year-old isolated from his parents and grandmother to avoid passing the disease on to them.

“I know a lot of people have some serious symptoms and my heart goes out to all of them,” he said. “Just mentally knowing that I went through this is enough, but then when you had the physical symptoms, obviously that’s when it gets really bad, so my heart goes out to everyone. Thank God that I didn’t have any symptoms, and I’ve just been waiting to get back and do what I love.”

He was set to report to the Reds secondary training facility at Prasco Park in Mason as soon as he finished the interview.

“I’m going 100% today,” he said. “I’m ready to face all live at-bats, any pitchers necessary. I want to be part of every single drill, every single fundamental. Anything I can do and even extra. There’s no limitations physically for me. I don’t need to build up. Obviously I’m going to listen to whatever the Reds think is best, but I want to hit the ground running. I’m ready to go.”

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Dietrich has been working out on his own to try to be as ready as possible after getting cleared via two negative tests, an antibody test and a physician’s physical including an EKG.

“Privately I’ve been doing things, isolating myself but doing my own drills and what I can to maintain shape,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m physically fit and ready to go, obviously got to see some some some live (pitching), but I was thinking with the way that it’s set up with the two teams and the two facilities I may be able to get more at-bats in three or four or five days and I can in two weeks in spring training.”

Dietrich gives the Reds 58 players (of a possible 60) on their summer camp roster. Thirty of them will make the Opening Day roster while the rest will go on the taxi squad and be eligible to play if needed. The roster will be trimmed to 28 two weeks into the season and will number 26 for the final month.

After making the club out of spring training last season, Dietrich was an early success story as a power-hitting utility man.

The outfielder/infielder hit 19 home runs in 306 at-bats but endured a major slump in the second half as a shoulder injury sunk his batting average to .187.

Healthy now, he could give manager David Bell another option off the bench or as a designated hitter.

“It’s great to have him back,” Bell said. “He became a big part of our team last year, and we saw what he is capable of in the first half. He had the shoulder injury in the second half and now he’s healthy and takes care of himself and is in great shape.”

“He’ll need some time, but the way he takes care of himself, he’ll be prepared sooner than later.”

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