All the questions surrounding Chris Coghlan last offseason heading into spring training were about transitioning to center. Rightly so, considering Coghlan is coming off knee surgery and hasn't played the position since AAU ball.

Perhaps of lesser concern, but at issue nonetheless is what the Marlins can expect from Coghlan at the plate.

The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year who totaled 113 hits in the second half? The struggling sophomore who last May 5 was batting .180 and didn't get his first extra-base hit until May 10?

When a meniscus tear ended his season in July, Coghlan had raised his average to .268 with a .715 on-base plus slugging percentage.

As a rookie, he batted .321 with a .848 OPS and struck out in just 13.6 percent of his plate appearances. That figure in 2010 rose to 21 percent.

"There were definitely times of real struggles mentally," said Coghlan, who went 0-for-1 with a walk in Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Cardinals.

"When you start off that bad and never go through something like that, there's that unknown. As much as I believe in the abilities I'm given, I can honestly say there are times you doubt some things. You just keep working and keep believing."

Hitting coach John Mallee said Coghlan began pressing and as a result expanded his strike zone, losing his short, compact swing.

The numbers confirm that assessment. According to Baseball Info Solutions, 74 percent of Coghlan's swings in 2009 were at pitches in the strike zone. In 2010, it plunged to 66 percent.