« August 2013 | Main | October 2013 »

23 posts from September 2013

September 03, 2013

Mother who kept Brian Flynn's baseball dream alive after father's death looking forward to his big-league debut

CHICAGO -- Brian Flynn was 8 when his father died in a head-on car collision, and the Oklahoma boy’s baseball dream nearly perished with it. Flynn would stand at the door after the accident, staring out on the backyard where he and his father used to practice for hours on end, and his mother would encourage him to keep playing.

“I’d ask him, ‘Do you want to go out and play catch?’” recalled his mother, Michele, “And he would just say no. I’m sure he was just remembering. His father wanted him to become a pitcher, but he never got to see him pitch because he was too young and it was coach-pitch.”

But thanks to his devoted mother, Brian Flynn’s baseball dreams not only lived on, but flourished. When he makes his major league debut for the Marlins on Wednesday at historic Wrigley Field, she’ll be in the stands cheering him on -- and imagining how it would feel if her late husband and Brian’s father could be there to see it, too.

“I think it would be great, sitting next to him, squeezing his hand for the nerves, and how proud he would be at the moment,” she said.

Said Brian Flynn of his father: “He always worked with me in the backyard, lived and breathed baseball. After he died, she kept it going. She kept pushing (for me) to fulfill the dream.”

Flynn, 23, is a 6-foot-8-inch left-hander, and one of three players the Marlins obtained in last year’s trade with the Tigers for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The other two players acquired by the Marlins in that trade -- catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Jacob Turner -- have already played for them.

Flynn went 6-11 for Triple A New Orleans this season but led the Pacific Coast League with a 2.80 ERA. Despite his height, Flynn displayed good control, averaging only 2.6 walks per nine innings.

But it took a lot of hard work for Flynn to develop his accuracy.

“Part of that was a struggle because he was a big kid, awkward,” said Michele Flynn.

Brian Flynn described himself at one time as being “uncoordinated” due to his height, with “legs flailing, arms flailing and a lot of body parts all over the place.”

But Michele took it upon herself to find Brian the best pitching coaches to work with in the Tulsa area, and eventually he landed at Wichita State. The Tigers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2011 first-year player draft.

“It’ll be a good day,” Brian Flynn said of Wednesday’s big league debut, with his mom watching from the stands. “It was kind of a dream me and my dad had. Mom supported it and kept it going.”

September 02, 2013

Chris Coghlan has empathy for injured Georgia football player

CHICAGO -- Chris Coghlan had neither seen the play nor heard about it. But when Coghlan was informed that a wide receiver for the Georgia football team suffered a season-ending knee injury while celebrating a touchdown over the weekend, it gave him immediate pause. Coghlan

In July of 2010, the season after he won the National League's Rookie of the Year award, Coghlan injured his left knee in the process of planting a shaving cream pie in the face of teammate Wes Helms following a walkoff victory. He's been trying to get his baseball career back on track ever since.

"It can happen to anybody at anytime," Coghlan said. "You can't control everything."

Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell discovered that for himself Saturday when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament while celebrating a teammate's touchdown in the endzone. As a result, Mitchell is out for the season.

"He actually hurt it in the exuberance of the first touchdown of the game for us," Georgia coach Mark Richt told reporters the following day. "He went to congratulate his teammate and I think they jumped up and chest-bumped or whatever and it ended up that he landed in a bad way."

Coghlan said that, fortunately for Mitchell, the player is young and still has plenty of time to put his career back on track. But Coghlan also said their injuries aren't any reason to end celebrations in either sport.

"There's no way," Coghlan said. "Sports are emotional -- football, baseball, everything. You watch any sport. A guy catches a touchdown pass. A guy scores the winning run. Nobody just says, 'That's cool, see you later.'"

Coghlan said Mitchell should be prepared to answer questions about the freak injury for the rest of his life, though.

"I think the hardest thing is, it's always with you," Coghlan said. "That happened four or five years ago and I still talk about it. Kendrys Morales (who was injured in walkoff celebration), I'm sure he has to hear about it all the time. That's the toughest part."

Here's video of Mitchell's injury. He wears No. 26:

September 01, 2013

Brian Flynn likely to make MLB debut at Wrigley; Chris Coghlan "back to square one"

ATLANTA -- All signs are pointing to Brian Flynn making his major league debut Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The 23-year-old lefty was one of three players -- along with Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly -- the Marlins obtained from Detroit last year for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.

Flynn has spent most of the season at Triple A New Orleans, where he went 6-11 with a 2.80 ERA in 23 starts. He also made four starts at Double A Jacksonville, where he was 1-1 with a 1.57 ERA. A 7th-round draft pick for the Tigers in 2011 out of Wichita State, Flynn is listed by MLB.com as the Marlins' ninth-ranked prospect.

Though he hasn't garnered as much fanfare as some of the Marlins' other top pitching prospects, such as Andrew Heaney and Justin Niccolino, Flynn has more than held his own during his three seasons in the minors, going 25-19 with a 3.29 ERA while striking out 323 and walking 113 in 380 2/3 total innings.

Jose Fernandez was in line to start Wednesday in Chicago, but the Marlin decided to push his next start back to Friday in Miami.


It's another day and another comeback try for Chris Coghlan, whose checkered big-league career has gone from winning the 2009 Rookie of the Year award, to blowing out his left knee while planting a shaving cream pie in the face of Wes Helms, to reinjuring the same knee, to working his way back into the lineup and re-discovering his hitting stroke, to returning to the disabled list with yet another injury.

"I've had my fair share of lumps," Coghlan said Sunday, his first day back with the Marlins.

A natural infielder, the Marlins converted Coghlan into an outfielder on the fly in '09. Due to the team's crowded outfield situation (i.e. Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick) the Marlins are giving Coghlan another shot in the infield, and third base in particular. That's where they had him playing during his minor-league injury rehab assignment. Brooks Robinson he's not with the glove. But the Marlins are so desperate for any kind of offensive life that they're willing to experiment with him at third just to get his bat in the lineup.

After getting off to a slow start earlier in the season, Coghlan's bat came to life in mid-May when he worked his way back into the lineup, going 23 for 67 with nine RBI from May 18 through June 8 before he went down with an injury (right calf nerve irritation) that originated in his lower back. He said his health is fine, now, and he doesn't expect any further issues.

Coghlan also doesn't anticipate any issues with moving back to third base.

"I think it's easier to go infield to outfield than outfield to infield," Coghlan said. "Infield is harder to play than outfield. But, the good thing is, when I went to the outfield, I didn't have any experience there. Never did it. So this (third base) I've played. (Before the injury) I was taking grounders. I worked with 'Bone' (Marlins infield coach Perry Hill) the whole year this year in the infield because I was trying to get into the lineup, trying to show (manager Mike Redmond) that I can get in there. I have complete confidence that I'll play well there."

Redmond said Coghlan would likely play both third base and outfield over the final month.


In addition to Coghlan, the Marlins also called up right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher and left-handed reliever Zach Phillips from Triple A New Orleans. Redmond said the Marlins would probably add several more players to the rosters after the team gets to Chicago.


A calf injury kept Justin Ruggiano out of Sunday's lineup in Atlanta.