TAMPA -- Dewayne Wise was on his way to winning the reserve outfielder's job with the Marlins this spring when a nagging toe injury changed everything.
Instead of heading to the minors, rehabbing and waiting for a call-up from the Marlins, Wise opted to get released from his minor league contract thinking he'd find his way onto a major league roster faster somewhere else. He signed with the Blue Jays, one of his four former teams. The call up never came. Now, a little more than three months after the Marlins cut him loose, Wise will make his Marlins debut Friday night hitting ninth and starting in center field against the Rays.
"It is weird," Wise, 33, said of being back in the Marlins clubhouse. "You never know in this game. When I left I went out on good terms. I didn’t want to burn any bridges. I was playing well in [Triple A Las Vegas] and decided to take my out to see if there was an opportunity to get back to the big leagues. A couple of teams called. These guys were one of them. I just felt like they knew me, I was in camp all spring. I just felt like it was a good opportunity for me at this point."
Wise, who bats left-handed and throws left-handed, hit .333 with five homers and 21 RBI and had an on-base percentage of .380 in 36 minor league games this season. He stole eight bases and was caught stealing three times. With Chris Coghlan back in the minor leagues, manager Edwin Rodriguez said Wise will platoon with Emilio Bonifacio in center field.
"We all know what kind of hitter he is. He can help us here. But he's here because of his defense," Rodriguez said. "Defensively, he'll be our best outfielder out there and he's going to help the young guys on the corners. He's going to help LoMo and help Stanton. I think we need that experienced fielder out there and I think he'll be the guy."
Wise said his first goal is to try and get the Marlins off this losing skid.
"The main thing is I want to tell these guys, you got to have fun," Wise said. "Nobody predicted us to win this division. I feel like a lot of guys are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. It’s a young team I just got the feeling that a lot of these guys are trying to do too much. They got to realize there are 25 guys on the team and you got to help each other.
"I’m not going to come in here and be a life saver or nothing like that, I just want to do whatever it takes to help these guys get back on track and just have fun that's the main thing."
COGHLAN TAKES DEMOTION HARD: Friday was supposed to be a happy homecoming for Chris Coghlan. Instead, the former National League Rookie of Year found out he was heading back to the minor leagues.
"He took it hard," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He's the rookie of the year and he knows he belongs here. He's just having a bad start. You have to take into consideration he lost a lot of time in spring training. I think whenever he started playing the last week of spring training he never got into a groove offensively.
"He's physically fine. He hasn't complained to us with any pain or anything. I think when the season started he was a little bit behind offensively because he missed so much time in spring training. Now, he's trying to get back his swing and it's not working.
"I'm not a hitting coach, but I've been around him. I think he's getting late to the swinging position. But he knows better than anybody. What we have seen from Chris Coghlan he'll be the first one to tell you that's not him, swinging at bad pitches. I think he doesn't have the confidence to take close pitches like he did last year. So, there's something he needs to work on."
Rodriguez said he expects Coghlan to return this season.
"I really believe and we believe Chris Coghlan needs to work on his swing. We all know he's a way better hitter than he's been showing. So we really believe if he goes there and goes back to basics with less pressure I think he'll be fine. And whenever he's fine then he come back here and help us.
"I think whatever he was doing to tweak his mechanics wasn't working at this level. Facing Cliff Lee, Halladay and thinking about his mechanics, I don't think it was working. He should go down and work whatever he needs to work and we all know he's going to hit eventually."
JOHNSON THROWS BULLPEN: Josh Johnson took a step forward in his return from the disabled list Friday when he threw his first bullpen session since leaving the team with right shoulder inflammation on May 17.
"It felt good. It kind of felt like I was throwing about 10 miles per hour, but kind of what I expected to be throwing for the first time on the mound in about a month," Johnson said. "It felt kind of weird to be on the slope. I almost fell on the first throw. But it felt good to get back up there and throw some balls to the plate."
Johnson said he threw about 20 pitches -- a mix of fastballs and changeups. His next steps in recovery: bullpen sessions on Sunday and Wednesday before he heads back to the minors for at least two rehab assignments. Johnson said his goal is to return to the rotation shortly after the All-Star Break, July 16 or 17.
As for the strength in his arm, Johnson said, "You can't tell. You have to start letting it go on the mound. Until you really start letting it go, you don't know. But it feels better. That's good."
What hasn't been good, he said, is watching the Marlins slide down the standings during their 3-18 stretch. "It's awful, even worse watching it on TV," Johnson said. "At least whenever your here you can at least cheer guys on, help pick guys up."
SCARY NOISES AT TEAM HOTEL: Reliever Steve Cishek, 25, said he had a tough time getting any sleep Thursday because of strange noises at the team hotel. The Marlins are staying at the Vinoy, a St. Petersburg hotel with a rich history of hauntings and ghost stories.
Now, Cishek said Friday, he has one of his own after being woken up by "rattling noises."
"I didn't let it bother me at first because I knew it was an old hotel," said Cishek, who said he stayed at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee last year -- another hotel that is supposedly haunted.
"At one point in the night I thought I heard pattering and footsteps. I thought I was probably just imagining things. But at 6 in the morning I woke up to a really loud noise in my room, a lot of rattling. It sounded like the toilet water was running. I didn't think much of it. But it was going on for like 10 minutes and as soon as I got up to go put the light on, everything went completely silent before I switched the light. I was like what's going on?"
Cishek, a fan of the TV show Ghost Hunter, said he's staying in the 300 level at the hotel. "I heard the fifth floor is where it's at, where all the craziness goes on. But I don't know. I haven't investigated it yet. I might leave the recorder on tonight, see if I can catch anything."
> Outfielder Mike Stanton belted a home run off the clock/scoreboard in center field at Tropicana Field, a blast that had to have been at least 500 feet during batting practice.
Asked about it in the clubhouse, a modest Stanton said: "The wind took it."