After a chaotic Spring Training and a tough first series, Round Rock's Chris McGuiness finally found comfort in the batters' box Monday. That ease helped the left-handed hitter belt two homers and a double in the Express' 13-5 win over the Iowa Cubs.
McGuiness smacked a grand slam off Barret Loux in the first inning, drilling a high fastball over the fence in left-center field. He followed up with a double in the third and another homer in the seventh, and finished the day with six RBIs.
"Home runs are rare enough," McGuiness said. "Anytime you can get two in one game, that's a plus. I did it once in Frisco last year, but other than that, it had been a while, probably back to college. It feels good. Early in the season, it's good to get a few hits out of the way."
The power surge snapped McGuiness out of a 2-for-15 slump to start the year. The 24-year-old had a chaotic spring - he was a Rule 5 Draft selection by the Cleveland Indians in the offseason, and his trip to Cleveland's camp marked his first Major League Spring Training. The Indians returned McGuiness to Texas in late March, but the first baseman was thrilled to at least have enough time in camp to pick up a few things.
"Cleveland was a great fit for me," he said. "They had just hired (Terry) Francona, who is a great manager to play for. The whole atmosphere there was great with veteran guys like (Nick) Swisher, (Mark) Reynolds, (Jason) Giambi.
"I was in a new organization with new eyes on me. They gave me a good chance there to get comfortable. It didn't work out because I didn't play well enough, but it was a win-win, either playing there or coming back to Texas."
The only downside was that the experience left him with limited in-game at-bats in Spring Training, putting him slightly behind the curve entering the season. That, paired with Omaha running out three left-handed starters against Round Rock to start the season, resulted in McGuiness' slow start.
"It was like a perfect storm of failure," he said.
McGuiness, a product of The Citadel, took early batting practice Monday and spent some time talking with coaches in an effort to simplify his approach. The result was a strong performance against Iowa.
"When the game comes to you with a good situation, you can't rush things," he said. "You have to slow it down and that's what we worked on in BP today."
Yangervis Solarte also homered for Round Rock and finished with four RBIs.