UK Baseball

Ex-Cat Cowgill hits grand slam in Mets debut

Former University of Kentucky and Henry Clay standout Collin Cowgill's grand slam capped a splashy New York Mets debut in an 11-2 rout of the visiting San Diego Padres on Monday.

"What a great day," Cowgill said. "We're looking forward to keeping this going."

Marlon Byrd added a pair of RBI singles and fellow Mets newcomer John Buck was in the middle of three rallies as New York improved baseball's best opening day record to 34-18 (.654) despite dropping its first eight openers. The Mets have won 20 of their last 22 season openers at home.

"If I was going to draw it up, this would be about what it looks like and feels like," Buck, a former Lexington Legend, said about his Mets debut. "It definitely helped me settle in a little easier."

Byrd and Buck each had an RBI single in the third. Cowgill doubled to key the fourth inning, which included a run-scoring groundout by David Wright and an RBI single by Daniel Murphy on his 28th birthday.

The 26-year-old Cowgill, batting leadoff after winning the center field job this spring, hit his first career slam off Brad Bach in the seventh to make it 11-2. The only other opening day slam in Mets history was hit by Todd Hundley on April 26, 1995, at Colorado.

It originally didn't look like Cowgill's hit had cleared the home run line on the outfield wall. Third base coach Tim Teufel let him know.

"Got to enjoy it for about 90 feet," Cowgill told ESPN. "I'll take it."

"I'm not sure I've been around a guy who competes like this guy does," Mets Manager Terry Collins said. "Today was a good start for him and everybody else."

Cowgill was acquired from Oakland in a December trade. Still wearing eye black long after the final out, he acknowledged having jitters for his first opening day start in the majors. "Just a humbling experience today. Very grateful for it," he said.

Buck called the 5-foot-9 Cowgill "a little spark plug."

"He plays like his hair's on fire. That's what we need," the catcher said.