NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mets captain David Wright got the skinny soon after the Amazin’s acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill: the kid’s a gamer.
Cowgill didn’t waste any time proving it.
“Collin is a big boost of energy for us, and I think that will be good for us over 162 games,” Wright said after New York defeated the San Diego Padres 11-2 at Citi Field. “When we first got him, I got a bunch of text messages … ‘You’re going to love this guy. He comes to play every day.’ ”
The 26-year-old showed plenty of hustle and pop on Opening Day, drawing comparisons to Lenny Dykstra.
Cowgill, batting leadoff after winning the center field job this spring, hit his first career slam off Brad Bach in the seventh to cap off the Mets’ 11-run day. The only other opening day slam in Mets history was hit by Todd Hundley on April 26, 1995, at Colorado.
“I’m not sure I’ve been around a guy who competes like this guy does,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “Today was a good start for him and everybody else.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Mets Opening Day
New York scored nine runs with two outs and went 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position after batting .246 in those situations last season, 20th in the majors. The three new additions to the lineup — Cowgill, Marlon Byrd and John Buck — were a combined 6 for 14 with seven RBIs and five runs.
They provided a welcome change for a team that got off to an encouraging start last year before going 28-48 after the All-Star break in its fourth straight losing season (74-88).
“Collin Cowgill took the opportunity and ran with it,” said Collins. “It’s what we talked about all spring long. We provide chances, and what do you want to do with them? He certainly got us off to a big start today.”
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. But his drive to left gave the Mets their most runs since Jon Niese beat Philadelphia 11-1 on July 3 last year.
“It’s a special day. My first time being in an Opening Day lineup. A lot of jitters but it’s exciting. The fans were unbelievable — beautiful day for that,” Cowgill said. “It was an exciting day and Jon Niese, what a game for him. Just an outstanding day for us and we’re looking forward to keeping this going.”
He added: “Just a humbling experience today. Very grateful for it.”
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.
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