Welcome Back, Cousins

Mechanical adjustment helped Marlins prospect reach majors after early injury





FORT LAUDERDALE—Scott Cousins made his big league debut on Sept. 3. It might have taken place considerably earlier if not for a miserable April and a May injury that sidelined him for a month.

A 2006 third-round pick out of San Francisco, Cousins opened the season at Triple-A New Orleans and batted .210 with two extra-base hits in April. Cousins turned the page on the calendar and on May 1 hit for the cycle. Within a week he separated his shoulder when he crashed into the fence trying to rob a home run.

Right around that time the Marlins had a need for an extra outfielder, and the call went to fellow lefthanded hitter Bryan Petersen.

"I just told myself not to panic. 'You're going to come around. History has shown you're going to come around. You're going to be fine,'" Cousins said. "I worked tireless hours in the cage trying to get everything in line, staying short, not trying to do too much. I hit single after single and then the power came."

Cousins had a 38-hit July and followed it up with a 39-hit August. The power came in a big way. After totaling 13 extra-base hits (three homers) over his first 56 games, he capped his minor league season with 26 (11 homers) over his final 61.

Perhaps the biggest stride Cousins made came versus lefthanders. He struggled against them at Double-A Jacksonville in 2009 and wasn't faring much better early this season. He credits the turnaround to a tip Doug Mientkiewicz gave him.

The Marlins signed Mientkiewicz to a minor league deal in May. Though he appeared in just four games with the Zephyrs before the Marlins released him, it was long enough for him to get through to Cousins, who finished batting .310 with three doubles, three homers and a .400 on-base percentage against lefties.

"I was doing something in my mechanics to lefties to not fly open and I was countering that with a roll, and taking my eye off the ball," Cousins said. "He said rather than do that, keep your chest tall and roll back with your hands. That'll help you stay on the ball even away, and the breaking ball. I was trying to stay inside the stuff so much that I would ultimately roll over everything."

FISH BITES

• Catcher Chris Hatcher, a .202 hitter in 84 games for Jacksonville, clinched the Suns' second straight Southern League title with a walk-off homer in a 1-0 win over the Tennessee Smokies.

• Righthander Jay Buente, whom the Marlins promoted to the majors in September, began feeling shoulder discomfort after his fourth outing. He remained hopeful of pitching in the Arizona Fall League.