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Longshot Scott Cousins Hoping To Make Team

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Miami Herald


JUPITER, Fla. — If there is one aspect of his game Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins takes pride in, it's backing up his pitcher with every ounce of athletic ability in his body.


That is why he has no regrets, even two years later, about the violent collision with the rightfield pole he played in front of last Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium.


If he had to do it again, Cousins, 25, said he would eat concrete to make the spectacular over-the-shoulder catch that resulted in a fractured kneecap, which cost him the final two months of the 2008 season for Single A Jupiter.


"The way I see it, it's real tough to hit .300," said Cousins, a third-round draft choice by the Marlins in 2006 out of the University of San Francisco.


"That's why not a lot of guys do it. But if you can be an extremely good baseball player on the other side, if you're taking hits away, why not do it? You don't want to end your season on one play. But at the same time would I go back and change it? Probably not. It's just the way I play."


Cousins is hoping his defensive prowess — and a hot bat — helps him earn a spot on the Marlins' Opening Day roster. But he knows the odds are long.


Not only do the Marlins seem more than happy with having National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, Cameron Maybin, Cody Ross and defensive star Brett Carroll as their outfielders, the wealth of outfield talent in the farm system runs deep.


In addition to Cousins, the Marlins have power-hitting Mike Stanton, 20, the club's top prospect; Jai Miller, 25, a 6-3, 205-pound athletic center fielder who hit .288 in Triple A last season; and Bryan Peterson, 23, who hit .297 in Double A last season.


Coming back from his knee injury, Cousins didn't produce on offense like he was expecting last season. He hit .263 with 12 home runs, 74 RBI and 27 stolen bases for Double A Jacksonville.


Now he's trying to make sure his second spring training with the Marlins lasts long.


"I can see the doorway, and I'm trying to get into it," said Cousins, who roomed with Coghlan at last year's camp. "I look at Chris and what he did and say I can do the same thing. He didn't make the club out of the spring, but he went to Triple A and tore the cover off the ball. The rest is history."


On Saturday, in a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Cardinals, Cousins went 2 for 3, scored a run, walked twice and improved his spring batting average through three games to .400. He also nearly threw out a Cardinals runner at the plate.


Coghlan said he thinks it's just a matter of Cousins establishing consistency before the Marlins give him a chance.


"He has all the athletic ability you want," said Coghlan, who played with Cousins for three years in the minors. "I've heard people compare him to Chipper Jones at the plate because of the pop he has to opposite field. He plays the game really hard. He's just had some tough breaks."


Cousins grew up in Reno, Nev. Both of his parents, he said, have worked as bartenders at the Cal Neva Hotel and Casino. He graduated third in his class in high school with a 3.95 grade-point average, and said it has been his life's goal to make it in baseball and graduate from college. He has one semester to go at South Florida before graduating with a degree in business administration.


"God bless my dad for putting a glove on my hand," Cousins said.


"I've seen a lot of people lose all their money growing up. All I've ever wanted to do was hold on to mine."




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