PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Chris Coghlan went to the Dominican Republic last offseason to play second base. His 39 games there mostly were about reacquainting himself with his old spot. He also used the time to employ new hitting mechanics.
The Marlins still consider Coghlan an outfielder. To date, he has not worked formally or informally with infield coach Perry Hill. Defensive versatility won't hurt, but for Coghlan to get back to the majors and stay he has to hit.
"I definitely wanted to be able to have that option, show people I could still play (second)," said Coghlan, who went 2 for 4 in Saturday's 8-8, nine-inning tie with the Mets. "It's just a matter of practicing. I feel like I can do it. ... I just want to be in the lineup every day. It doesn't matter what position."
The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year, Coghlan didn't have much an offseason. Almost immediately after the campaign ended he headed to his Clearwater training facility and began taking ground balls. Coghlan had not played infield since 2009.
"I had to start from the ground up, working my way back to being able to move around, and then taking that on the field before I even got to the Dominican," Coghlan said. "There was a good foundation laid before I got there."
Coghlan arrived in camp with another foundation in place. Through former Marlin Nick Johnson, Coghlan in 2009 met ex-major leaguer Mike Bard, a hitting instructor at Bardo's Diamond Sports in Parker, Colo., south of Denver.
Bard studied Coghlan's film and brought a few things to his attention during a weekend visit. Coghlan liked what he heard.
"I'd be a fool to consider it wasn't truth he was showing me on video," Coghlan said. "It doesn't lie. We tried to work on some things and then went down (to the Dominican) and played. ...I saw a lot of improvement, but I was still tinkering with stuff, still thinking about it instead of just reacting. When I came back I was able to go through that grind and hit right away. It's been a big improvement. I can tell with the ball off my bat in BP."
Coghlan batted just .213 during his winter league stint, but 11 of his 19 hits went for extra bases, including four homers. He took a few weeks off after returning from the Dominican before moving to Colorado for intensive hitting work.
"I talked to Chris a little bit about his perspective on things, which to me is most important," Bard said.
"Having known Chris since '09, in my opinion he's an absolute bull in the box. He proved that back in '09. Injuries have affected him from a calibration standpoint and I think for Chris it was just understanding what his choices were and understanding what was going on when his body wouldn't really obey him. Kudos to him for taking an honest look at it.
"To me, the number one thing (in 2009) was he was single-minded. He knew what his plan was and he went out and did it. Injury can certainly cause doubt and doubt is double-mindedness. That's the thing he's been trying to take responsibility for right now. He's going back to just being single-minded, having his plan and knowing it's about competing for truth over time."
And an every day job in the majors.
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