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Chris Coghlan and Carlos Lee Running Neck and Neck, Brian Sanches Loses, Aaron Thompson (Finally) Wins -- And More


   Chris Coghlan will catch a reflection of himself when he peers into the Astros dugout tonight. Not that Carlos Lee bears any physical resemblance to Coghlan. But Lee's .104 batting average is about as close as it gets to Coghlan's equally miniscule .109. And that should give Coghlan some hope that his slump won't last forever. Historically, Lee has never been a good April hitter. April, in fact, has been Lee's worst month at the plate.

   Coghlan and Lee aren't the only marquee names off to poor starts. Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira (.114) and Toronto's Lyle Overbay (.115) are also struggling.

   "I don't look other people's (averages) and say, 'OK, I'm going to be OK now,'" Coghlan said. "They have histories. I have a history, but not in the major leagues. I'm not worried. At the end of the year, it'll be fine and it'll be something you look back on and laugh, and say that was a crazy first month."

    Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley isn't the least bit concerned with Coghlan's slump.

    "All that's going to change," Presley said. "He's the last guy you worry about. He's got too good of a swing and too good of an approach. It might take him another week or so to get going. The thing about him is he does two really good things that good hitters do. He doesn't take it to the field and his attitude is always good."

  The worst opening month on record by any Marlin belongs to former shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who batted .153 in 98 at bats in April of 2000. Gonzalez finished the season with a .200 average, so it didn't improve greatly for him the rest of the way.

   1) Ronny Paulino (sore quad) is available to pinch-hit and could be used behind the plate in an emergency. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said that if Paulino was to reach base, he would replace him with a pinch-runner. As a result, Gonzalez ordered emergency back-ups Gaby Sanchez and Mike Lamb to catch bullpen sessions on Tuesday for Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, respectively. Based on eyewitness accounts, Sanchez got the worst of it even though he is regarded as the better catcher.

  Said Gaby Sanchez: "He (Nolasco) was using his curveball, slider, cutter, splitty, fastball, two-seamer...."

  Said Lamb: "I was standing behind Gaby, laughing at him, because all I caught were fastballs. So he had to work harder than I did."

    Gonzalez said Gaby Sanchez would be his first option, over Lamb, if the situation ever reached that point.

   2) Reliever Brian Sanches (DL-groin) made his first rehab appearance on Monday in Clearwater for Single A Jupiter, and the results were so-so: he gave up a run on a pair of hits, but also struck out two. As he received the start, he also took the loss. The Marlins plan for Sanches to make at least two more rehab appearances -- one Thursday, the other Friday -- before rejoining the club on April 26.

   3) Remember Aaron Thompson, the minor-league pitcher the Marlins dealt to the Nationals at last year's trading deadline to obtain Nick Johnson? Well, according to this report, the lefty notched his first win with his new organization the other night. Actually, the numbers show Thompson has pitched quite well for Double A Harrisburg. He has a not-shabby-at-all 3.17 ERA in his nine starts for H-Burg.

    4) Marlins executives were saddened by the death of Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor. McGregor was found dead in a Salt Lake City hotel room on Tuesday.

   "I was absolutely shocked," said Marlins president David Samson. "He and I worked out together at owners' meetings. Our organization feels terribly for his wife and his kids."

   INJURY UPDATES: Andrew Miller (sprained ankle) threw three innings in an extended spring game over the weekend and could be ready to join the Triple A New Orleans rotation within the next 10 days to two weeks.....Sean West (sore back) is coming along slower and continues to throw bullpen sessions in Jupiter.

   Tonight's Lineups:

   Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Chris Coghlan, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6.John Baker, c; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Chris Volstad, rhp.

   Astros: 1. Michael Bourn, cf; 2. Jeff Keppinger, 2b; 3. Lance Berkman, 1b; 4. Carlos Lee, lf; 5. Hunter Pence, rf; 6. Pedro Feliz, 3b; 7. J.R. Towles, c; 8. Tommy Manzella, ss; 9. Brett Myers, rhp.

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