Must C: Cowgill: Outfielder's grand slam powers Mets

NEW YORK -- Collin Cowgill is a gregarious fellow, so he does not mind the attention. But even the outgoing Cowgill was somewhat taken aback by how much exposure he received after hitting an Opening Day grand slam in his first game with the Mets.

"It's definitely different," Cowgill said, fielding more than a half-dozen interview requests in 30 minutes on Wednesday afternoon. "I'm not really used to it, but it's been great. It's been a pleasant experience."

Cowgill has in turn embraced New York City, spending his off-day relaxing with his father and brother, who are in town for the opening series. A day later, Cowgill was back atop the lineup, playing center field and leading off against the Padres.

He hopes he is able to parlay his playing time into even more celebrity -- up to a certain point.

"As long as it's positive," Cowgill said, laughing. "It's nice after a good game. Hopefully after my bad games I don't get as much attention."

Mets planning on Laffey in Marcum's absence

WSH@NYM: Marcum tosses two frames in spring debut

NEW YORK -- As the Mets await updated word on Shaun Marcum's injury, they have made their contingency plan all but official. With Marcum "very unlikely" to pitch against the Marlins on Sunday due to discomfort in his right shoulder and neck, left-hander Aaron Laffey is the team's first option to step into the rotation.

"Hopefully he comes in Sunday and pitches very well," manager Terry Collins said. "If he does, he'll most likely get another start. But we're going to take it one start at a time right now."

That will depend in large part upon the health of Marcum, who is scheduled to report to Citi Field on Thursday for an examination by team doctors. The Mets have changed their diagnosis of Marcum's injury twice since mid-March, and are seeking clarity on what exactly is bothering him.

"Obviously, we've got to wait until the doctors tell us what it is, but he has some real discomfort running from his shoulder up through his neck," Collins said. "What that is, where it starts, what's causing it, I think we won't know until he sees the doctors [Thursday]."

Though Marcum admitted some alarm when he first felt neck pain during a bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, Fla., last week, he indicated at the time that he had avoided the worst. Yet Marcum's continued discomfort has the Mets concerned.

Until they receive the answers that they seek, the Mets will patch their rotation with Laffey, who began stretching out as a starting pitcher in the final weeks of Spring Training. Though the Mets considered instead giving the assignment to right-hander Collin McHugh, who is already on the 40-man roster, they can easily create roster space by shifting Johan Santana to the 60-day DL.

That will allow them to activate Laffey, who started 16 games with the Blue Jays last season.

"We just thought in Spring Training from what we saw from Aaron Laffey," Collins said, "that due to his experience -- he's had some success at this level -- he would be our first option right now."

Mets looking to stay hot at chilly Citi Field

SD@NYM: Cowgill doubles for his first Mets hit

NEW YORK -- Collin Cowgill had some advice for any hitters suiting up on Wednesday at frigid Citi Field.

"Don't get jammed," Cowgill said, laughing. "You might not feel your hands again for two innings."

Such was the worry before Game 2 of the season, with icy winds ripping through the ballpark and temperatures expected to dip into the low 30s. Cowgill, who spent much of last year hitting in Oakland, said players sometimes forget how brutal Northeast weather can be following springs in sunny Florida or Arizona.

"It's not just the cold, it's the wind that becomes a major issue," manager Terry Collins said. "Once you're playing you do stay fairly warm, but when you come in and you sit on that warm bench and maybe you start to get a little heated, then go back out and have that wind chill …"

Collins fretted in particular about third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy, who missed long stretches of Spring Training with core muscle strains. Cold weather can not only chill players, but also make it more difficult for achy muscles to stay loose.

It's a concern even for completely healthy players such as starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who claims he is used to the cold after years of high school ball in Eastern Connecticut.

"The biggest worry is the time between innings," Collins said. "We'll do the best we can to make sure he stays warm. But when this baby starts to dip down into the 20s wind chill factor, it becomes an issue."

More than usual, cold weather may vex the Mets this April. Following a six-game homestand in chilly New York, the Mets will head on the road for three games in Philadelphia, three in Minneapolis and four in Denver -- the latter two cities always potential snow traps early in the season.

"It's just part of the game in April, realistically," outfielder Mike Baxter said. "It's the reality of April baseball in the north."