JUPITER, Fla. — It would be understandable if three seasons of injuries and struggles turned Chris Coghlan into a hardened and frustrated person.
After all, Coghlan appeared to secure a long-term spot in the Marlins outfield with a 2009 season that earned the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
But the very next season, Coghlan suffered a knee injury when he attempted to give a teammate a celebratory pie in the face. When not recovering from injury or in the minors the past two years, he has hit .207 in 104 big-league games.
“It’s been up and down, highs and lows, but you learn,” said Coghlan, 27. “There’s so much I’ve learned in two years that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Wouldn’t trade it for the world? Few players would say those words, let alone say them in earnest. But seeing the positives in life are part of Coghlan’s makeup.
Perhaps that’s one reason he’s back with the Marlins and trying to earn a spot with Miami in 2013. He is off to a good start this spring, hitting .455 (10 for 22) through his first seven games.
“I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t believe in me or want me here,” Coghlan said. “If they didn’t want me here I would have been traded with everybody else.
“I’m excited to be a Marlin. I hope to be part of this reconstruction that we’re doing.”
New Marlins manager Mike Redmond had not seen Coghlan play before camp opened.
“I’ve been impressed,” Redmond said. “He’s going out there, he’s playing hard and he’s doing everything we’ve asked of him. He’s had good at-bats and he’s showing his versatility. We’ll continue to see how he does through the course of spring training.”
A third baseman at the University of Mississippi, Coghlan was a first-round draft pick in 2006 and worked on converting to second base after signing with the Marlins. Upon reaching the bigs, he played mostly left field and some center field.
He started in right field against Venezuela on Tuesday night, when he went 4-for-4, with two doubles, and three runs.
“In the National League, it’s important for your bench guys to play multiple positions because of double switches or wanting to give a guy a day off,” Redmond said. “The more positions you can play, the better for us.”
Ricky Nolasco, a 2009 teammate, credited Coghlan with his attitude.
“I don’t think anybody is questioning his attitude or his motivation or determination,” Nolasco said. “Anybody that knows him knows those are attributes that the has. It’s been rough for him, but he has kept his head up, he hasn’t been complaining. He’s just going out there grinding, trying to get to where he has been.”
When Nolasco is asked about Coghlan, he thinks of the ’09 rookie.
“I think about that guy who put together that rookie year, just really good, complete hitter with a good approach and just putting line drives all over the field,” Nolasco said. “He was underrated as far as outfield. He was one of the best left fielders I ever had.”
Coghlan sees 2013 as a fresh start.
“I’m excited, I feel like this is a new chapter, I feel like this is a new season of life for me,” he said. “I like to think of this year as a redemption type year versus another constructive, learning year.”