They haven’t fired their manager (yet), but the Marlins made a surprising move today by demoting Opening Day center fielder and former Rookie of the Year winner Chris Coghlan to Triple-A.
Coghlan was asked to switch to center field this season after previously never playing the position as a pro and has fared relatively well there, but he hit just .230 with five homers in 65 games, as his OPS has dropped from .850 as a rookie to .718 last season and now .668 this year.
Making the move even more surprising is that the Marlins called up journeyman DeWayne Wise from Triple-A to take Coghlan’s roster spot and compete with Emilio Bonifacio to replace him in center field.
Wise signed a minor-league deal with the Marlins last week after the Blue Jays agreed to let him go despite a .338 batting average at Triple-A, but he’s a 33-year-old career .222 hitter with a .642 OPS in 376 games in the majors. In other words, for as bad as Coghlan has been this season he’s still out-produced Wise’s career numbers. Bonifacio has similarly terrible career numbers, although he’s been more productive this year.
Losing 14 of 15 games tends to convince a team they need to do something, but this move certainly doesn’t make the Marlins any better.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.