Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coolbaugh, 28, Warms to Chance with Cards

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coolbaugh, 28, Warms to Chance with Cards

Article excerpt

Scott Coolbaugh had his time as a can't-miss prospect. Now he's just grateful for opportunities.

"It's better to be up here in the big leagues than being down in Triple-A," Coolbaugh said, "whether you get a chance to play much here or not."

Playing for his third organization, Coolbaugh joined the Cardinals last week as a backup to regular third baseman Todd Zeile. He earned the promotion from Class AAA Louisville after ranking among the American Association leaders with 19 home runs, 75 runs batted in and 25 doubles.

Coolbaugh, 28, has posted gaudy numbers in seasons past. He set a University of Texas record with 15 homers in one season and drove in 132 runs in his three-year career there. The Texas Rangers had big plans for him. So did the San Diego Padres.

But after seven years as a pro, he had a .217 batting average in only 411 big-league at-bats.

"I always got caught behind quality third basemen, just like they definitely have here in Todd Zeile," Coolbaugh said. "But I have no problem with sitting on the bench and playing that way. I used to worry a little about getting my point across that I belong in the big leagues. I'd put pressure on, and I'd struggle.

"Struggling like that before, I just didn't make adjustments. But the experience of being here should help me now."

If nothing else, Coolbaugh's experience has taught him to be happy with whatever he can achieve in the game, no matter how it stacks up with his expectations out of college.

"I don't think I'm disappointed with my career," he said. "I've been able to do some things most people wish they could do."

Coolbaugh replaced Gregg Jefferies at first base in the eighth inning of Friday's first game against the Atlanta Braves. Jefferies was ejected from the game for complaining a called strike during his previous at-bat. Coolbaugh started at first base in the second game and homered to center field in the second inning. …

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