Gators in MLB: New dad Zunino hits 2-run HR to help Rays

Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino drops his bat after hitting a two-run home run off Kansas City Royals pitcher Brad Keller during the seventh inning Monday in St. Petersburg. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Zunino’s first home run for the Tampa Bay Rays was one to remember.

The veteran catcher out of the University of Florida was reinstated from the paternity list, three days after the birth of his first child, and hit a two-run shot that helped the AL East leaders stop a season-high four-game skid with a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

“Man, I didn’t promise that, but I’ll definitely take it,” Zunino said. “You know, that was a very special moment in life and my baseball career. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Zunino, obtained from Seattle in an offseason trade, missed three games while on the paternity list for the birth of his son, Rhett Michael, last Friday.

“That’s got to be pretty special. I’m a big fan of Rhett Zunino right now. That’s something he’s going to be able to talk about for a long time. Awesome,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “The way it came, and how big a hit it was at the time is even more impactful.”