SAN FRANCISCO — The Florida Marlins are looking for a new way to celebrate their walk-off victories – something stronger than a handshake but not as physical as a dog pile – after the traditional pie-in-the-face routine landed Chris Coghlan on the disabled list.
Coghlan, a former Ole Miss standout, tore the meniscus in his left knee on Sunday when he pied Wes Helms with shaving cream to celebrate Helms’ game-ending hit. Coghlan will miss at least two weeks and as many as eight if he undergoes surgery to repair the injury.
“It’s a little embarrassing,” Coghlan said Tuesday. “I think some people may get a laugh out of it. But it’s just a freak thing.”
It’s no laughing matter for the Marlins or Coghlan, who might require surgery that could cause him to miss the rest of the season. Coghlan, the Marlins’ left fielder and leadoff hitter, was the National League’s Rookie of the Year last season.
Coghlan said he would return to South Florida this week to receive a second medical opinion. He is hopeful he will miss no more than two or three weeks and postpone surgery until after the season.
But this much is certain: The Marlins won’t be celebrating their walk-off wins with as much vigor. Manager Edwin Rodriguez has asked several veterans on the club to come up with a new way to celebrate, something less dangerous.
“If we have a walk-off, we have to celebrate,” Rodriguez said. “But we have to be more careful. I challenged them to be creative and come up with something that is more safe.”
Helms said players haven’t formulated a plan, and they don’t need one until they return to South Florida since only home teams celebrate walk-off wins.
“I’m sure there’s still going to be celebrations,” Helms said. “You don’t want to take away from the win. That’s all part of winning, having fun. I think the pie in the face is fine. You’ve just got to limit how much intensity goes into it.”
The Marlins were in a celebratory mood last week. After all, they had four walk-off wins in a span of seven days. Each one ended the same way, with a pie in the hero’s face. Twice it was Donnie Murphy. Ronny Paulino was subjected to the treatment once.
Nobody got hurt.
But Coghlan wasn’t as fortunate when he whitened Helms’ face after Sunday’s win. Coghlan swooped in from behind to pie Helms.
“I remember jumping over him, him ducking, and when I landed, that was it,” said Coghlan, who knew instantly he injured something.
Coghlan said he tore the meniscus in his right knee from a baseball injury when he was 14.
“I haven’t had any issues with that since then,” he said.
Coghlan said he doesn’t want to see the celebrations end, just toned down a bit.
The Los Angeles Angels are being more careful after losing Kendry Morales for the season. Morales broke a leg when he jumped into a throng of teammates waiting at home plate to celebrate his walk-off grand slam in April.
“You can’t control your emotions in the excitement when you win a game,” Coghlan said.
“It’s not like we’re going to hit a walk-off and everyone’s just going to say ‘good job,’ high-five and walk away. This game has emotions.”
Said Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop: “What happened was one in a million. I wouldn’t say a pie in the face is an occupational hazard. However, we’ll learn from our lesson.”
Clark Spencer/McClatchy Newspapers