Coggin Biding His Time In Scranton

David Coggin isn't wasting time fretting over injuries that took him from a highly valued prospect to a guy who passed through waivers without a sniff from other teams. Instead, he's pitching at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre and is taking the time to get completely healthy and to continue building up the strength in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

All things considered, David Coggin would rather be in Philadelphia.

But he knows to get there his road goes through Scranton.

So, when the Phillies informed the right-hander he'd be starting the year in Scranton/Wilkes Barre with the Red Barons, there was no sulking. "It's always a disappointment," he said. "I thought I proved to (the team) I was ready to throw. But there is no time to feel sorry for yourself in this game. Now it's up to me to get healthy."

Coggin underwent right shoulder surgery to repair labral tear in September 2002 and missed most of 2003, save some minor league rehab starts at the end of the year. He arrived at spring training this year looking for a job in the Phillies' bullpen, competing against Amaury Telemaco for the long reliever spot.

While Coggin impressed with a 1.84 ERA in 14 2/3 innings pitched, Telemaco got the call. Coggin ended up at Lackawanna County Stadium trying to prove to the Phillies' brass his arm is ready for major league action.

Because he was out of minor league options, Coggin had to pass through waivers to stay with the Phillies. No other major league team took the risk of signing Coggin, once a highly valued prospect in the Phillies' organization.

"It didn't surprise me that much (to pass through waivers)," Coggin said. "I haven't pitched in a year. The Phillies know my arm is sound. Anyone else would have been taking a guess."

And forgive him for being downright delighted no one else took that gamble. After all, ever since graduating from high school in 1995, Coggin has known no other organization. "This is the uniform I grew up with," he said. "It's where I want to be. Now I have to concentrate on getting back up there with the team."

But he's not in a terrible hurry. Coggin said his arm is about 90 percent healthy, and couldn't put a timetable on when he would feel 100 percent. He'll know, he said, when his location comes back and he's able to spot pitches the way he's used to doing.

In two starts with the Barons, Coggin hasn't been sharp, throwing 13 1/3 innings and giving up 18 hits – four of them left the yard.

But right now, he said arm strength is priority one – and that is coming along. "It's getting there," he said.

And when it does get there, Coggin hopes to have a spot with the Phillies coming out of the bullpen, not in the starting rotation, even though he's thrown 29 career starts in three years in the majors and come out of the bullpen just 21 times – all in 2003.

"It more suits my style of pitching," he said. "I enjoy getting the innings in, but I'll stay in the bullpen. Plus, I can't stand sitting around for four days between starts. It's not my personality."

Speaking of personality, he knows the Phillies' fans personalities – which is why he's a bit relived the team decided to move the home bullpen closer to the field and make the visitors tussle with the crowd in Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.

"First, it's a far stroll down that staircase," he said. "And things aren't always going good in a season. (The bullpen closest to the fans) would not be a fun place to be then."

The visions dancing in his head of being back with the big club are on the back burner right now though. Right now, it's all about getting healthy to get that opportunity to get back to Philly.

"Staying healthy, getting my strength back, that's my main concern," he said. "Then I can get back up and help the team."

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories