Celebration gone sour

A simple jump for joy has landed Chris Coghlan on the disabled list for the first time in his big league career.

coghlaninjury.jpgThe Marlins 25-year-old left fielder was placed on the 15-day DL following Monday night’s win at San Francisco with a torn meniscus in his left knee. If surgery is required, Coghlan will be out six to eight weeks. So being lost for the remainder of the season is possible, but that has yet to be determined.

The frustration of the injury stems from the fact it occurred during a postgame celebration. After Wes Helms’ walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning beat the Braves on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, Helms was doing a postgame TV interview on the field.

As has become a tradition of late, the hero of the game gets a good-natured shaving cream pie to the face. Coghlan made a high leap in the air to get Helms, and he went landed, he hurt his knee.

“As I jumped, I landed on my knee wrong, and that’s how I got injured,” Coghlan said. “Surgery is a possibility. We haven’t gone that path yet.”

The Marlins won four games during their homestand in walk-off fashion. They were so common that the team had a can of shaving cream ready in the storage room behind the dugout. In the room is a batting tee and players commonly go there to get ready for at-bats.

“It’s just one of those freak things,” Helms said. “You kind of take it hard. I know he does for it to happen that way. It’s one of those things, where you’re kind of like in the wrong place at the wrong time. It just happened. I don’t think it even sunk in to everybody yet.”

The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, Coghlan is one of the most respected and liked players on the team. Since he broke into the big leagues a year ago, Helms has taken him under his wing.

Coghlan and outfielder Brett Carroll, who is now in Triple-A New Orleans, began calling Helms, “Uncle Wes” because he is a veteran leader on a young squad.

It’s not the first time Coghlan has gotten Helms with shaving cream to the face. After a walk-off win in ’09, Coghlan and Carroll each shared the honors in a postgame celebration.

After Coghlan’s injury, manager Edwin Rodriguez addressed the team, saying that post-game pie celebrations are now off limits.

“He’s a very important part of this team,” pitcher Ricky Nolasco said of Coghlan. “All you can do is hope for a speedy recovery. It’s just unfortunate that something like that happens after your spirits are so high after a game. It’s just real unfortunate.”

Coghlan hopes his injury serves as a lesson to other players.

“We need to be a little bit more aware,” Coghlan said. “This is a game of emotions. There is nothing wrong with that. You just need to be a little smarter when you celebrate.

“I’ve been very blessed to not go on the DL before or not have too many injuries in my life. That’s why this is humbling. I’ve played through things. I’ve always prided myself on going out there and continuing to play, and help the team win, if I can play. But this is something I can’t play on.”

As satisfying as it is to win in dramatic fashion, the Marlins are now braced to be without a key player for at least a couple of weeks, and likely longer.

“If you look back at it, you’re glad you had the celebration, but you wish it could have been different,” Helms said.

– Joe Frisaro

(photo courtesy of Robert Vigon/Florida Marlins)

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