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07/26/09 4:30 PM EST
Coghlan sticking with his approach
Marlins rookie not letting leadoff role change his game
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Some leadoff hitters have the ability to slap hit and bunt their way on base. An example is Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers' speedster whose bunt single set him up to score the winning run in the ninth inning on Saturday night. Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan has a different approach. In this weekend's series at Dodger Stadium, there were contrasting leadoff hitters. Furcal has the more prototypical style, doing anything he can to get on base. His bunt was a key play in Los Angeles' 4-3 win on Saturday. "He's different than I am," Coghlan said. "Just like [Marlins teammate Emilio Bonifacio], I'm not as fast as they are. I can't do that run-and-hit thing that they do -- or slap it around." A left-handed hitter, Coghlan strives for a similar approach to textbook left-handed hitters like J.D. Drew of the Red Sox and Minnesota's Joe Mauer. "Even though they don't hit in the leadoff spot, to me, those are guys I like to watch," Coghlan said. "They are so patient, and they know what they want to do. They don't waver from their approach." Coghlan, who turned 24 in June, is still adjusting to the big leagues. Since being promoted from Triple-A New Orleans in May, he's batting .248 with a .337 on-base percentage. Sunday was the 43rd time Coghlan has hit leadoff, and he's hitting .262 with a .337 on-base percentage in his first 42 games. "I bat leadoff, but I don't try to slap the ball around," he said. "That's not bad, but that's just not my game. That's not something I've done. I've always hit, got on base, and have a good approach. That's what I try to stick to, regardless of where I'm hitting." Regarded as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter, Coghlan has 10 two-base hits, and five home runs. He's not been considered a home run threat, nor does he try to be. The most homers he's hit in the Minor Leagues was 12 in 2007, with 10 coming at low-Class A Greensboro, and two that year at Class A Jupiter. He had three in 96 at-bats at Triple-A before being promoted to the Marlins. "I think power comes last to a hitter," Coghlan said. "Ask anybody, and they'll tell you they want to teach you first how to hit. Fortunately, I've always been able to hit. Home runs aren't something I worry about. If I hit them, good. It's a reward for hitting it good." With five in his first 226 big league at-bats, it's reasonable to think he could develop to hit 10-15 per year. "I don't look at myself as a 30-home run guy," he said. "I look at myself as a 10 to 15 guy. I think if I got 600 at-bats, 15 would be really good. Who knows down the line? It's kind of hard to say down the line. I'm only 24 and this is my first year. You don't know what's going to happen."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.