Coles Rolling With The Punches

Corey Coles has a batting title on his resume

Corey Coles struggled in his first professional season three years ago, and after doing well in Brooklyn the following year, struggled to find consistent playing time in the Hagerstown outfield last year. Continuing to roll with the punches entering this season, Coles has had a career year and he has helped St. Lucie into the Florida State League playoffs.

"I'm thrilled," Corey Coles said of his 2006 season. "We're in the playoffs, I'm hitting the ball well, and we're still winning. Overall I'm pleased with what we're doing so far."

Coles, who hit .341 with 26 doubles and 21 stolen bases while batting in the top third of the lineup most of the year, won the Florida State League batting title. He credits his consistent playing time and knowing his role on the team for the difference in his game.

"Last year I wasn't an everyday player," Coles listed as the biggest difference between this year and last season, "and towards the end of the year I got hurt. I worked hard in Spring Training and fine-tuned some things right before the season started, and I knew my role with this team was a leadoff type guy. My job was to get on base, not hit home runs or be a power guy. I knew my role better and I took a better approach."

Although he batted .307 with 16 doubles and a career-high four home runs with the Hagerstown Suns in 2005, he found it hard securing an everyday position with the likes of Carlos Gomez and Ambiorix Concepcion in the same outfield.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the park everyday and knowing you're in the lineup instead of waiting for your manager to put the lineup up to see if you're playing or not," said Coles. "That makes it a lot easier to come to the park everyday and knowing what you need to get done."

"It's tough when you don't know if you're going play today, tomorrow, if you play two straight days and then you're off three in a row," he continued. "It makes it easier in your preparation knowing you're definitely going to be in the lineup everyday."

Coles saw his named penciled in 124 times in St. Lucie's 139 games this season and the fact that he was challenging for a league batting title, as well as being one of manager Gary Carter's key players, was why he remained in St. Lucie instead of being promoted to Binghamton when a spot opened up in early August.

"I'm glad to have stayed here," Coles admitted. "I know I'm not really on the Mets' fast-track as far as moving up or anything. I knew when Ambiorix [Concecpion] moved up, he was a little bit ahead of me. I'm glad to be staying here. Things will work out. I [won] a batting title, we'll go the playoffs, and hopefully we'll win a championship."

Struggling to find his place in the organization prior to this season, Coles is hoping he opened some eyes with his play this year.

"I think so," he said if he thinks he turned some heads. "I hope I did. I'm 24, I'll be 25-years old next year. That's not exactly young in the minor leagues. I hope I opened a few people's eyes at least. If I didn't in this organization, maybe I did in some other ones to show what I can do. I got a chance this year and I'm hoping I get another one next year."

Not exactly bitter with the lack of playing time a year ago despite his fantastic season, Coles looks at what happened to him in Hagerstown as a learning lesson more than anything.

"You've just got to roll with the punches," he said of the biggest lesson he learned over his career thus far. "My first year in, I came into Brooklyn as a 5th rounder and struggled. They sent me to Kingsport and I wound up swinging the bat pretty good. The next year they kept me in Extended [Spring Training] and then swung the bat pretty good in Brooklyn. I kind of got lost in the mix last year [in Hagerstown]."

"I guess it's more learning your role I guess, and perfect it," he continued. "Whether it's being the power guy, or being the reserve guy. I was a reserve player last year, took it, and still wound up hitting over .300. I think that maybe showed people that I could do something and it gave me a chance this year to play everyday - and I did something with it."

Coles, a gritty and determined player on and off the field, quickly became of favorite of Gary Carter and it is one of the reasons he has been a stalwart in the St. Lucie lineup all season long.

"I think it's great," he said of being Gary Carter's go-to guy. "I'm kind of lucky to be his guy. From what he has done in his career, and the impact that he's had in baseball - he tells me all the time, 'I want you to be with me no matter where I am'. I'll take that any day."

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