Coghlan will get more looks in center

JUPITER, Fla. -- The center field competition is about to get interesting at Marlins camp.

The position is wide open, and a case can be made that the frontrunner to win the Opening Day job is Chris Coghlan.

The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year has been one of the interesting stories of Spring Training. In Grapefruit League play, he's 6-for-18 (.333). Those numbers don't include a 4-for-4 night on Tuesday in Miami's 6-5 win over Team Venezuela.

Coghlan has been playing mostly in corner outfield spots of late. But manager Mike Redmond said Coghlan will get the start in center field on Thursday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

"We're going to start mixing him in there," Redmond said. "Obviously, he's doing a great job. He's swinging the bat great, and playing a good outfield. He's definitely making a case for himself. We're going to run him out there in center."

Heading into Spring Training, Justin Ruggiano was considered to have the edge in center. But before Grapefruit League got under way, Ruggiano suffered a strained lower back.

On Wednesday, Ruggiano took some at-bats off Jose Ceda, who is returning from Tommy John surgery.

"He said everything feels good," Redmond said. "He's progressing, too. Maybe tomorrow he will be in a BP group, and we'll go from there."

Ruggiano is getting close to seeing game action, which makes the competition in center even more interesting.

Gorkys Hernandez, Kevin Mattison and Bryan Petersen also are in the mix.

"We haven't really had anybody stand out there yet," Redmond said. "There is still an opportunity for somebody to take that job."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter