Chris Coghlan brings unique perspective to Cubs youth movement


Chris Coghlan brings unique perspective to Cubs youth movement

Chris Coghlan doesn't have the luxury of thinking about the future.

Who knows if Coghlan will still be here next year, or even for the rest of this season? The Cubs outfielder turns 30 in June and only allows himself to think in a day-to-day mindset instead of getting caught up in the big picture.

Coghlan wants to win a championship here and make a permanent home in Chicago, but he knows that decision isn't his to make.

In the here and now, Coghlan is seeing the majority of playing time in left field, hitting near Starlin Castro in the order just about every day. But the former first-round pick of the Florida Marlins (2006) and National League Rookie of the Year (2009) knows his role is more than just roaming the outfield at the corner of Clark and Addison.

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"I think all of us have had different experiences in this game," Coghlan said. "Mine's just been very unique, because I've been at the top from an individual standpoint. And I've been at a low point from an individual standpoint where I've gotta make a team out of spring training.

"I've been a guy who's played enough years to see what it's like and what it means to have a winning attitude and to go about that business. I've been a backup player. I've been a full-time player. In six years, I've had a full realm.

"That does give me an advantage and I'm grateful for that. And I don't want to waste that opportunity, to be able to talk to those guys, and whatever role they're in, to say, 'Hey, I've been there. I've done that.'

“We have a lot of young guys that are still trying to figure it out and it's a great opportunity to be able to share that and impart that."

Coghlan enjoyed a career resurgence last season, emerging as a leadoff hitter and posting a .283/.352/.452 slash line with 28 doubles, nine home runs, 41 RBI and 50 runs.

The Cubs brought in Dexter Fowler to set the table at the top of the 2015 lineup and Coghlan has struggled some in his new role, batting just .228 with a .290 on-base percentage. He has shown power - three homers, four doubles - while hitting anywhere from fourth to seventh in the lineup.

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Coghlan admitted he's still getting used to his new role but enjoys playing on a Cubs team that finished April with a 12-8 record and within striking distance in the NL Central.

"I think everybody is more excited," he said. "I mean, the object of the game is to win. That's it. The only thing we play for is to win a championship. So when you're on a team that's winning and has a chance to really contend, it makes things way more enjoyable.

"It sucks playing in September when you have no shot. It's just grinding it out. It's tough not to count days down when you're in that situation. Hopefully this year, when we're in September, we're contending for the division and every game is exciting and you look forward to it and can't wait to get to the ballpark.

"That's the way we feel right now."

Coghlan has seen every level of a rebuild in his career, breaking into the big leagues on a 2009 Marlins team that had Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco leading the way.

By the time Coghlan left Miami after the 2013 season, the Marlins had traded away all of those guys and spent three straight seasons in last place in the NL East while building from scratch around young slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

In Chicago, Coghlan has seen plenty of big-league debuts - Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, among others - as the Cubs try to break in their young talent while going for it at the same time.

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"There are some similarities between [the Cubs and Marlins], but here, it's different because they try to lock up their guys," Coghlan said. "You've got Starlin and [Anthony] Rizzo and then they're bringing in older guys and you have these young guys that are now coming up through the system.

"I think that's probably what Miami tried to envision. But their history just hasn't shown that. I mean, they've locked up [outfielder Christian] Yelich and Stanton now, so they're headed in a different direction. But in my five years there, it wasn't like that. They didn't want to keep guys around for whatever reason.

"Here, it's different in that aspect. I feel like they have a better understanding of their plan - and executing their plan - than when I was in Miami."

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation. 

Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers. 

This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).

Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game. 

The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter. 

Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER. 

The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.

The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood. 

Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status.