26 Jun

whatever happened to …

Chris Coghlan started in left field on Monday, and the Ole Miss product must have felt a little out of place. The 33-year-old veteran of 801 big league games was joined in the outfield by two 19-year-olds. The shortstop in front of him was 18. The pitcher Coghlan faced in the bottom of the first inning was 19. Coghlan was in Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., suiting up for one of the Chicago Cubs’ two Arizona League teams, the lowest rung in the minors. How’d he get there? Coghlan was released last August by Toronto and was without a job until signing a minor league deal in late March with the Cubs, with whom he won a World Series ring in 2016. He had been sidelined with a shoulder injury until last week. He is on the Triple-A Iowa roster and is playing in the AZL on a rehab assignment. He went 0-for-3 with a walk on Monday and is at .250 with a double, a triple and an RBI in five games all told. The National League’s rookie of the year with Florida back in 2009, Coghlan hit just .200 in 36 games for Toronto in 2017. He is a .258 career hitter in the majors and can play multiple positions. It’ll be interesting to see if this new road leads back to the big leagues. P.S. Also in the AZL on a rehab assignment is ex-Ole Miss star Stuart Turner, who is batting .350 in six games for Cincinnati’s rookie team. Turner, 26, played 37 games in the big leagues last year as a Rule 5 draftee by the Reds. He lost his 40-man roster spot this spring and was sent to Triple-A Louisville, where the catcher played just 12 games before landing on the disabled list in early May.

15 Aug

it’s a journey

Drafted by the Florida Marlins out of Ole Miss in 2006, Chris Coghlan has worn a lot of different unies and played in a lot of different towns over the years. “I am really grateful for the journey that I’ve had, honestly,” he told MLB Network earlier this year. He won a rookie of the year award in 2009 and a World Series ring last fall. He also endured injuries and demotions. Alas, his mercurial career took another downturn last week. Coghlan was on a rehab assignment for Toronto when the Blue Jays, needing to clear roster space, released the 32-year-old outfielder/infielder. He has been with four different teams since the start of 2016 and now finds himself looking for a fifth. He hit .200 in 36 games for the Blue Jays, making his biggest impression when he hurtled Yadier Molina at home plate back in April. A lefty hitter with versatility, Coghlan might be able to catch on with a contending team in need. Maybe his journey will continue, maybe not. Desmond Jennings has been without a team since mid-June. The former Itawamba Community College star, drafted the same year as Coghlan, has been released three times since last August, most recently by the New York Mets. He was batting .237 with eight homers for their Triple-A Las Vegas club. Beset by injuries in recent years, the 30-year-old outfielder’s once-promising career has veered way off course. Hopefully, he enjoyed the journey.

26 Apr

it’s a bird …

Of the 127 runs that were scored in major league games on Tuesday night, Chris Coghlan’s is the one that will live on in highlight-reel perpetuity. The Ole Miss product went airborne — Superman-style — over St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and landed hands first on home plate in the seventh inning of Toronto’s 6-5, 11-inning victory at Busch Stadium. “He’s (crouched) down, maybe I can jump, so let’s jump,” Coghlan told The Associated Press about his split-second decision to leap over rather than plow into Molina, who was up the third-base line several feet as he caught the throw from the outfield. “You’ve got to win that game because that’s what made it worthwhile,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “You probably don’t see that for 100 years.” Coghlan, batting .167 in his limited at-bats with the Blue Jays, drew a walk as a pinch hitter and scored from first on a wall-banging hit by Kevin Pillar. It was Coghlan’s first run as a Blue Jay and gave the team a short-lived 3-2 lead. Perhaps it was the kind of play that will propel them to more victories. At 6-14, the worst record in MLB, they needed a lift.

19 Oct

mettle test

Game 4. However it plays out, Game 4 of the 2016 National League Championship Series is one Chicago Cubs fans will remember. “Teams that win the whole thing always have games that define them,” Cubs outfielder and ex-Ole Miss star Chris Coghlan told ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Game 4 at Dodger Stadium tonight will be such a game. Win it, and the series is even, guaranteed to go back to Wrigley Field. Lose it, and the Cubs are down 3-1 with Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw looming either in Game 5 or 6. The Cubs, shut out in Games 2 and 3, haven’t been hitting. Coghlan, a .252 hitter in 48 regular season games, hasn’t had much opportunity off the bench, going 0-for-2 with a walk in the NLCS. He doesn’t face lefties often, so he isn’t likely to start Game 4 against Julio Urias. But he could get an at-bat late, in a crucial spot, a “defining” moment perhaps. An anxious Cubs Nation – and every other true fan – will be watching.

12 Aug

crazy good

Chris Coghlan, the former Ole Miss standout, has a grand total of 10 hits for the Chicago Cubs this season. The one he got on Thursday night at Wrigley Field may stick in the memory for a while. Batting in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and the Cubs down 2-0 to St. Louis, Coghlan looked back at the umpire and tried to call time before a pitch by Carlos Martinez. Time wasn’t granted. Coghlan swiveled back toward Martinez, re-gripped the bat as the pitch — a changeup – was en route and smacked a two-run single into right field. “Crazy,” he called it after the Cubs had secured a 4-3 win in extra innings. The first-place Cubs have been on a crazy roll with 10 straight wins, though Coghlan’s contributions have been limited. The 31-year-old veteran has just seven at-bats in August. In 24 games since he was reacquired from Oakland, he is batting .208 with four RBIs. But … it takes a bench to win a championship, and the Cubs have a deep one. For his part, Coghlan can play almost anywhere — a quality Cubs manager Joe Maddon seems to really like — and he is a .259 career hitter with some pop from the left side. (He hit five homers for the A’s but none since rejoining the Cubs.) He’ll have more moments, though it’s unlikely any will be quite as crazy as Thursday’s. P.S. Picayune High product T.J. House was sent back to Triple-A by Cleveland, a first-place club in the American League. House made three appearances during his call-up, allowing one run in one inning of work.

10 Jun

look who’s back

Chris Coghlan must be one happy dude. When Thursday dawned, the former Ole Miss standout was batting .146 for a last-place team. By day’s end, he was a member of the team with the best record in baseball. Coghlan, who recharged his sagging career with the Chicago Cubs in 2014-15, was reacquired by the club from Oakland, where he had been shipped in February. Injuries have struck the Cubs, and Coghlan can play a lot of positions. He wasn’t hitting much for the A’s, but perhaps he’ll recapture some magic with Chicago. He batted .250 with 16 homers and 41 RBIs last season and .283 with nine and 41 in 2014. The Cubs are in Atlanta tonight. P.S. It was, as expected, a rather quiet first day of the MLB draft for Mississippians. Mississippi State right-hander Dakota Hudson went at the end of Round 1, 34th overall, to St. Louis, and Ole Miss outfielder J.B. Woodman was picked in the second round, 57th overall, by Toronto. Things should pick up today for Magnolia State players.

25 Feb

changing places

Chris Coghlan, whose playing time figured to be limited with the Chicago Cubs this year, is off to Oakland, where the ex-Ole Miss star might find greener pastures. Coghlan, a lefty-hitting outfielder, was traded today for pitcher Aaron Brooks. Penciled in as a fourth outfielder (at best) for the Cubs, Coghlan, who hit .250 with 16 homers in 2015, could battle Khris Davis and Coco Crisp for the starting job in left field with the A’s. Crisp, a switch-hitter, hit .175 in an injury-dampened 2015 season. Davis, a right-handed hitter with power, was acquired recently from Milwaukee. Sam Fuld is also in the picture. Oakland appears set with Josh Reddick in right and Billy Burns in center. Coghlan, the 2009 National League rookie of the year with the Florida Marlins, revived a slumping career in Chicago the past two seasons, posting a .346 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging average. He credits a new approach. “When you value (slugging percentage) and on-base, now you swing at pitches that you can slug and you take pitches that you can’t slug,” he recently told mlb.com. If it worked at Wrigley Field, it ought to work at O.Co Coliseum.

14 Jun

fun times

Chris Coghlan is not exactly tearing up the league, but you have to think he’s having fun. The Ole Miss product is part of a Chicago Cubs team that has been one of this season’s most riveting stories. The Cubs have a roster of blossoming young stars and a colorful, well-respected manager. And they are winning, which is something they were not doing when Coghlan joined the club in May of 2014. Those Cubs were stuck in the basement of the National League Central, where they had practically taken up residence. Coghlan, cut loose by Miami after the ’13 season, had signed with Chicago as a minor league free agent. He didn’t make the club out of spring training and was shipped to Triple-A. He got the call to Chicago to take the place of an injured player. Expectations were, uh, muted. But then the young players began to arrive … and to produce. Coghlan got hot, too. He wound up at .283 with nine homers, 41 RBIs and 50 runs in 125 games. The Cubs finished 73-89, their best record since 2010. Excitement grew in the off-season as they signed lefty Jon Lester, then hired Joe Maddon as skipper. Coghlan also was re-signed. The team has ridden the wave to a 33-27 record; they got their MLB-best seventh walk-off win on Saturday, beating Cincinnati 4-3 at Wrigley Field. They’re third in the NL Central, 7 games back of leader St. Louis. Coghlan, a lefty hitter, plays regularly in left field. He is batting just .243 but has hit at a .326 clip over his last 15 games. Eight of his 43 hits are home runs. He has driven in 18 runs, scored 21. Coghlan isn’t old — he’ll turn 30 on June 18 — but in the Cubs’ clubhouse, he may feel that way, surrounded by so many young players: Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Hendricks, Castro, Alcantara, Soler, et al. Coghlan, drafted out of Ole Miss in 2006, has been in the big leagues, off and on, since 2009, when he was the NL’s rookie of the year for the Marlins. Five years and many injuries later, he was without an MLB job until the Cubs gave him that shot last May. “In six years, I’ve had a full realm,” Coghlan told the Chicago Sun-Times. Part of his role now is to spread that perspective to a young team that appears full of energy and hope. It has to be fun. P.S. Also having a jolly old time: Mitch Moreland and the Texas Rangers, who’ve won 10 of 14 to get to 33-29, nipping at the heels of Houston in the American League West. Former Mississippi State star Moreland, who has been raking since coming off a stint on the disabled list, is batting .310 with eight homers and 30 RBIs. His latest bomb came Saturday, a three-run shot that helped beat Minnesota 11-7 at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

21 Sep

spoiler alert

Your spoiler this day was ex-Ole Miss star Chris Coghlan, who stuck it to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coghlan hit two home runs, a leadoff blast and a two-run go-ahead shot in the eighth inning, to lift the Chicago Cubs to an 8-7 victory at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers already have clinched a playoff berth but are trying to nail down the National League West title, a more valuable prize. Coghlan, having a bounce-back campaign for the Cubs after losing his way with Miami, went 4-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs. The lefty-hitting outfielder is batting .283 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and 45 runs. “I just feel blessed at the opportunity I have,” Coghlan told The Associated Press. He may well get another opportunity with the young but talented Cubs in 2015. P.S. Mississippians in the majors put on quite a power display on Saturday. Also going deep were Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson (No. 24), Southern Miss product Brian Dozier (No. 21), former Ole Miss star Alex Presley (No. 6) and ex-Rebel Zack Cozart (No. 4).

04 Aug

like old times

This time a year ago, Chris Coghlan was on the disabled list with one of the many injuries that have dogged his career (see previous posts). The former Ole Miss star had to be wondering about his future with the Miami Marlins, if not his future in baseball. Flash forward to Sunday. Coghlan, playing left field for the Chicago Cubs, produced his fifth straight two-hit game, including a home run, to help the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3. Coghlan, a lefty hitter, batted .376 in July and is 6-for-14 so far in August. For the year, he is at .292 with six home runs, 19 RBIs and 31 runs in 73 games since the Cubs brought him to the majors in early May. Coghlan, the 2009 National League rookie of the year who is only 29, may well have played his way into the Cubs’ plans for 2015. “He really plays the game with a lot of heart,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria told mlb.com. Heart, or something like it, has carried Coghlan a long way in a year’s time. Miami let him walk after last season; he batted .215 in September and wound up at .256 with one homer in 70 games for the year. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal in December and invited him to spring training, but Coghlan didn’t make their 25-man roster. (Considering the state of the Cubs that had to be a letdown.) An opportunity arose when Ryan Sweeney went on the disabled list a month into the season. Summoned from Triple-A Iowa, Coghlan started slowly but gradually took off, looking more and more like his 2009 self. Now if he can just stay healthy.