By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Admittedly, Cubs infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan doesn’t like doing interviews. It’s nothing personal, he just doesn’t like talking about himself — stats, trends and so many distractions from the grind of a season.
Coghlan just prefers not to get caught up in the hype machine.
“The biggest thing I try to do is stay focused, try to do the least amount of interviews,” Coghlan said. “It’s just natural for them people to bring up stats. ‘Hey, you’re doing really good.’ I never wanted to think like that. I always wanted to stay focused on what I wanted to do that day, that game.”
But this hasn’t been an ordinary season for the 30-year-old Coghlan, the Cubs’ jack of all trades. Coghlan has played first base, second base, third base, left field and right field, while batting all over the order, including lead-off and the third spot. He even briefly held baseball’s longest active iron man streak with 150 consecutive games played.
Coghlan entered Thursday batting .247 but boasts a .774 OPS. His 2.7 WAR marks a career-high, matching the mark he had in 2009 when he won NL Rookie of the Year.
Everything has come to fruition with the blessing of Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
“I’m grateful that Joe has believed in me,” Coghlan said. “For the opportunity I’ve gotten here to play different positions, to hit in top of the order, the three hole, to be able play second, a position I haven’t played in the major legues in years. Joe trusted me enough to throw me out there. And then playing all over the outfielder, a little third, and even first, to give Rizzo a little break. I’m grateful.”
Maddon sees Coghlan as the Cubs’ super-utility man. He’s a cog to fill in any hole within the lineup. It’s a similar role to what Ben Zobrist played in Tampa Bay.
Baseball humbled Coghlan a bit when he was stuck working through the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa in 2014. It was a long way from his Rookie of the Year run.
Now, Coghlan is part of a Cubs team with top young talent. Kris Bryant is considered a leading NL Rookie of the Year candidate, with newcomers Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler working through their first seasons. Coghlan is wary of the draining effects of a rookie season.
“Media talks about them,” Coghlan said. “They love the excitement of how young they are, how great they’re doing, and rightfully so. It’s just that you have to remind them, ‘Hey, man, you’re doing really well. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad game or a tough game, because we’re a really good team.'”
The Cubs are in the thick of this postseason push, currently occupying the second NL wild-card spot. Coghlan was part of the 2014 team that won just 73 games, so he has an idea of where this club has been.
In a season filled with young stars rising and a team learning how to win, the veteran Coghlan has reinvented himself.
“You know what, it’s been really neat,” Coghlan said. “It’s probably something I’ll more reflect in the offseason, but I want to enjoy the moment, too. It’s not all just so serious — grind, grind, grind, grind. I’ll also look back and go, ‘Man, this is pretty cool.'”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.