By NEMS Daily Journal
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – This was not the way outfielder Chris Coghlan would have wanted to spend today, his 26th birthday.
The former Ole Miss standout, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year for the Florida Marlins, was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans on Friday after slumping at the plate for two months.
The Marlins had lost 14 of their last 15 games through Thursday.
“We believe that Chris Coghlan needs to work on his swing,” Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said Friday. “We all know he’s a way better hitter than he’s been showing. I think he will be fine. Whenever he’s fine, then he can come back here and help us.”
Rodriguez said Coghlan, a first-round draft pick in 2006, took the news hard.
“He knows he belongs here. Just having a bad start,” Rodriguez said. “What we’ve seen from Chris Coghlan, he’s going to be the first one to tell you that’s not him swinging the bat.”
Florida (32-37) took a seven-game losing streak into a weekend interleague series with Tampa Bay. During that skid, Coghlan was hitting 3 for 24, dropping his batting average to .230 for the season with five home runs, 33 runs scored and 22 RBIs.
“I think when the season started he was a little bit behind offensively because he missed so much time in spring training,” Rodriguez said. “Now he’s trying to get back his swing and it’s not working.”
On April 25, Coghlan – a left-handed hitter – was batting .301 while playing solidly in a new position, center field. But he hit only .190 (22 of 116) in May and was hitting .220 (13 of 59) in June.
After starting the season as the team’s leadoff hitter, Coghlan was dropped to eighth in the batting order on Monday.
“When you lose and you’re a leadoff guy and you’re not getting on base, managers want to try to switch something up,” Coghlan told reporters.
He went 1 for 14 after that move, however.
The biggest hole in Coghlan’s swing was against left-handed pitching, as he was hitting .107 (8 for 75). He’s a career .294 hitter against lefties.
“It goes back to swinging at bad pitches,” Rodriguez said. “When you are swinging at bad pitches it is because you don’t have confidence taking close pitches.”
Florida is struggling to regain their footing after a stunning recent slide.
The Marlins were 29-19 and just one game behind Philadelphia after a 1-0 victory in San Francisco on May 26. After going 3-18 since, they crashed to last place in the NL East, 111/2 games back.
Coghlan’s new team, New Orleans, is in a weekend stand at Oklahoma City. He played only 25 games there in 2009, hitting .344, before being called up to the Marlins and hitting .344.
Last season, his second as Florida’s everyday left fielder, he hit .268 in 91 games.
Also Friday, Florida purchased the contract of outfielder Dewayne Wise from New Orleans.
“I feel very comfortable putting him into the starting lineup,” Rodriguez said of Wise. “He’s a good defender and he knows how to handle the bat.”
Wise, a career .222 hitter, and Emilio Bonifacio (.273 this season) will both get playing time in center field.
Contributing: The Associated Press, MLB.com, MCT.