The lowest point for Chris Coghlan came on May 23 when, on a day when his teammates were pouring it on the Chicago White Sox in a 13-0 rout, he was going 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. He was 0 for 14 for the series. His average was at .210. There was growing speculation he would be the odd outfielder out once the Marlins made the move to call up Mike Stanton.
"I just was pressing," Coghlan said. "I was trying to make things happen instead of just taking what they gave me. I started chasing out of the zone and swinging at balls that I don't normally swing at. I don't think there was any certain pitch. I just think I was extending the zone instead of staying disciplined in my approach."
From that day forward, Coghlan has been a changed hitter. He's gone 29 for 66, lifting his average to .278 and resembling last season's NL Rookie of the Year when he hit .321, the sixth-highest average in the league. On Friday, he went 4x4 and walked twice against the Rays. It was his eighth multi-hit game over his past 10 games.
"I'm swinging at strikes and taking the balls," he said.
Coghlan has played barely more than a season's worth of games (175) at the major-league level. But, to hear him describe it, the lessons he learned from his early-season hitting slump might prove to be more valuable to his career than any of the success he's enjoyed.
"I can look back knowing that I grew from that situation," Coghlan said. "I'm thankful for that situation. The only thing I would like to change is to help the team more. But, from the lessons I learned through the failures, I wouldn't want to change any of that. Anytime you go through trials in life -- in baseball or anything else -- that's when you really grow. You have trials and those are the best times. When you're in that moment, it doesn't seem that way. In that moment, it's tough. There's a lot of weight on your shoulder. But when you get out and see that light and get through it, you look back and gain a bunch of wisdom."
WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT.....Jim Joyce, the umpire whose blown call cost Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game, was behind the plate Friday at Tropicana Field and made the most critical call of the game -- a ball on a 3-2 pitch to Dan Uggla with two outs and the bases loaded in the third. Rays starter James Shields, who subsequently imploded, said it was a "borderline" pitch. Said Uggla: "Not even close." The Marlins ended up scoring five runs in the inning.
MARLINS -- 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, DH; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Ronny Paulino, c; (pitching: Ricky Nolasco)
RAYS -- 1. John Jaso, c; 2. Carl Crawford, lf; 3. Evan Longoria, 3b; 4. Carlos Pena, 1b; 5. Ben Zobrist, rf; 6. B.J. Upton, cf; 7. Hank Blalock, dh; 8. Sean Rodriguez, 2b; 9. Reid Brignac, ss; (pitching: Matt Garza).