26-year-old Collin Cowgill has started 49 games in two MLB seasons, hitting .255 with two home runs overall. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The New York Mets cloudy outfield situation became much clearer on Saturday afternoon, when manager Terry Collins named Collin Cowgill the team's starting centerfielder.
Though Collins was expected to opt for a platoon in center -- if not the corner spots, as well -- Cowgill won the job outright with a strong spring in which he batted .303. The 26-year-old was acquired in a December trade that sent minor leaguer Jefry Marte to the Oakland Athletics.
Cowgill has started just 49 games in two major-league seasons for the Diamondbacks and A's. He owns a .255 career average with two home runs and a .631 OPS.
The team was not comfortable with playing 25-year-old Jordany Valdespin -- a left-handed hitter who was expected to platoon with the right-handed-hitting Cowgill -- full-time because of his defense, according to ESPN.com's Adam Rubin.
"One of the things we've got to make sure we do, that's cover ourselves defensively," Collins said. "Be it center field, be it late for Lucas, or whatever it might be, he's the best outfielder we've got, in my opinion. Defensively he can really play center field. So we thought we could take him. Hopefully if he starts swinging, like he did last year, I'm sure he's going to get a lot of playing time. But he does give us a lot of security."
Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd will start in left and right field, respectively, in an outfield that has been been the butt of offseason jokes -- even by Mets GM Sandy Alderson.