Ruggiano returns to Mets in grand fashion

Ruggiano returns to Mets in grand fashion

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Mets' offense received a push from an unlikely source Thursday: Justin Ruggiano.

The outfielder, who began the 2016 season with the Texas Rangers, returned from the disabled list and smashed a grand slam off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner as part of a three-hit night in New York's 10-7 loss.

Showcasing why Mets manager Terry Collins would like to consistently use him against left-handed pitchers, Ruggiano battled with Bumgarner after the left-hander walked consecutive hitters to load the bases. Then, after not chasing a breaking ball in the dirt, the eight-year veteran crushed a 3-2 pitch to straightaway center field.

"He's come out some days and he's been absolutely dominating, I don't think he had all of his pitches working today," said Ruggiano. "I just took a long at-bat with him and finally got something I could hit."

The hit proved to be a highlight in what has been an adverse season for Ruggiano. He appeared on Texas's Opening Day roster, but was designated for assignment after only three days on the Major League team. Ruggiano went to Triple-A Round Rock, batting just .226 in 44 games before being released on July 28.

New York signed him just two days later -- in large part due to the club's Gold Glove center fielder, Juan Lagares, going on the DL with a thumb injury. Ruggiano said he hoped to bring "stability" to the Mets upon arriving.

However, the veteran of seven Major League clubs appeared in just three games for the Mets before straining his left hamstring and was placed on the 15-day DL on Aug 2.

He was back with the Mets on Thursday, and finally displayed what Collins hoped he'd be able to offer when he initially signed with the club. Ruggiano, who entered the series with a .271/.334/.516 career slash line against left-handed pitching, went 2-for-2 against Bumgarner.

More importantly, Ruggiano is feeling healthy, and he displayed that by scoring from first on Ty Kelly's two-run triple in the sixth and tracking down a Joe Panik fly ball in AT&T Park's Triples Alley in the seventh.

"I'm coming back from a hamstring injury and I feel like I just ran a marathon, pushing the limits there first game back," said Ruggiano.

Justin Wise is a reporter for based in the Bay Area and covered the Mets on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.