PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie left fielder Chris Coghlan is learning quickly you got to be ready for anything with the Marlins. An infielder in college and the minors, he's just begun getting used to playing in the outfield again (and for the first time since he was in Little League).
Monday against the Phillies, he experienced another first with the Fish -- batting leadoff. "It's probably the first time I'm going to do that since high school," said Coghlan, who took the top spot in place of Emilio Bonifacio, who got the night off. "I'm not looking at it any different. [Bench coach] Carlos [Tosca] told me you have a great approach, just be yourself. The way I see it, leading off is just for the first inning. You just want to be a tablesetter."
Don't count on Coghlan be the tablesetter for long. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Bonifacio will be back in the spot Tuesday. But down the road, you never know.
“I definitely feel he can give you good at-bats,” Gonzalez said of Coughlan, who was 5-for-32 in the Marlins homestand. “It’s funny because if you didn’t know the batting average and were just watching the games, you are thinking he’s hitting higher than he’s hitting. You think .280 with the at-bats and the walks. I think the batting average will come. I think he can handle it.”
Although his numbers aren't great right now (.191 batting average, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts), Coghlan has more patience than Bonifacio and has better than average speed, too. In two seasons in the minors, Coghlan stole 63 bases and was caught just 17 times.
"I'm not a guy who is a burner. I'm definitely not Bonifacio and there are guys who are faster than me on this team. But I consider myself a fast baserunner," said Coghlan, who has just one steal in 15 games. "I go off my instincts, what I feel. Obviously in the minor leagues you are able to run more. Up here, you have Hanley [Ramirez] behind you and you don't want to chance the out. And in the eight hole, it's the same thing with the pitcher behind you."
As for his fielding, Coghlan (who has two errors) feels like that is coming around too. “I feel a lot better. Cody [Ross] and [Jeremy Hermida] Herm help me a lot, give me advice,” Coghlan said. “I’m just learning on the fly. I try to make it as simple as possible, make the routine plays and hit the cutoff guys. That’s what Bo [Porter] preaches. Read the ball and make no false steps. That’s what I try to do.”
A couple more quick notes from before the game...
> Manager Fredi Gonzalez said former Marlins starters Anibal Sanchez and Rick VandenHurk have been making good strides in their comebacks from injury. Sanchez pitched three innings in a simulated game Sunday and will pitch a side session Tuesday before getting a start Thursday in Jupiter. VandenHurk threw three innings for the Hammerheads, tossing 54 pitches and giving up three hits, one run, two walks and striking out three. VandenHurk will pitch on the side Wednesday and start Saturday in Triple A New Orleans. Both pitchers will throw between 70 to 75 pitches in their starts.
> The loss of workhorse left-hander Renyel Pinto (elbow inflammation) hurts. The Marlins are down to just one lefty in their bullpen -- Dan Meyer. The good news, though, is their right-handed relievers have been doing a pretty good job against lefties. Entering Monday, left-handed opponents were hitting .200 off Kiko Calero (5-25, 8 BBs, 8 Ks), .186 off Leo Nuñez (8-43, 11 Ks, 7 BBs), .091 off Brian Sanches (1-11, 1 BB, 1 K) and .250 off Matt Lindstrom (10-40, 9 Ks, 9 BBs).
> Burke Badenhop will start Wednesday against the Phillies -- his first start since May 18 of last year.The right-hander has gone 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA in 20-1/3 innings pitching in long relief. With a day off between series Thursday, Gonzalez said it would give his bullpen time to rest.
Badenhop told me he feels like he's done well in spots, but has to avoid the big inning. "There have been a couple outings that have hurt me statistically wise," Badenhop said. "I think my last three I’ve left guys on base. I really strive to finish innings and those have kind of killed me. I threw two shutout innings against the Dodgers and then I give up four. The D-Backs game I leave two on. Those runs -- I have to completely shut those off. But otherwise, I think I’m doing alright.