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Kotchman makes grand debut against Mets

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JUPITER, Fla. -- After a freak injury delayed his Spring Training debut, Marlins first baseman Casey Kotchman knocked a first-inning grand slam to right on the second pitch from Mets starter Jenrry Mejia on Tuesday afternoon.

The 30-year-old and nine-year veteran, who is in camp on a Minor League contract, sliced his left ring finger on Feb. 18, when he ran into a machine flinging infield popups that was located around home plate. Kotchman sprinted in from first and made the catch, but collided with the machine in the process. He received four stitches and scraped his left middle finger.

"I'm feeling OK, progressing, just trying to get into game shape," Kotchman said before the game. "I've been on my feet as much as I can just trying to get the swelling out and make sure it's not infected, and get healed up."

Kotchman started and batted sixth against New York after taking a few at-bats for the first time in six days in a simulated game on Sunday. He grounded out to second in the fourth. Matt Downs replaced him in the top of the fifth.

"It felt nice to just get out there with your teammates, get out and sweat a little bit, play the game and try to get into shape," said Kotchman after the game.

In the fourth inning, he caught Brian Bixler's infield popup.

"I'm glad I caught the infield fly without hitting the pitching machine," said Kotchman, who is expected to have the stitches out either late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last season in 142 games with the Indians, Kotchman hit .229 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs. In 2011 with the Rays, he batted .306 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

With projected starting first baseman Logan Morrison recovering from right knee surgery, Kotchman and several other players are looking to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

"You'd rather have it early than late, no doubt about it," Kotchman said. "It gives you plenty of time to get ready and get your body in shape. You obviously want to be out there. You want to see how [your teammates] go about it on the field. At the same time, you don't want to rush things too much. You just find that good balance."

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