HOUSTON -- Three years ago, when backup outfielder Collin Cowgill was with the D-backs and assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen was with the Dodgers, Hansen -- fourth all-time in pinch-hits -- provided some key advice that helped Cowgill on a day like Saturday.
"He said to show up every day like you're starting," Cowgill recalled, "that way it's not a surprise when you are."
Cowgill -- only 27 years old, but already on his fourth team -- made his first start of the season when he batted leadoff and played right field against the Astros in the second of a four-game series. Seven days earlier, he got word that he had beaten out J.B. Shuck for the backup-outfield job, even though Shuck batted .293 while playing in 129 games the prior season.
Cowgill figured his right-handed bat and versatility went a long way towards landing that role, and he's right. He called finding out he won the job "bitter-sweet," because it also meant Shuck would go to the Minors.
"We're teammates, we're friends," Cowgill said of his relationship with Shuck. "There's no hard feelings when that happens. You're both fighting for the same thing. That's just the way the game is, that's the way baseball is. Every spring is going to be like that, where there's guys that are battling. I went through it with the Mets, I went through it with the A's. And every team you go through, there's going to be competition. Especially this team, with the mainstays in this lineup."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.