SAN DIEGO -- New Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick spent most of his Sunday morning exchanging handshakes and with his teammates and coaches inside the clubhouse at PETCO Park.

While Ludwick admitted it was going to take time to get acclimated to his new team and new city, he certainly arrived well-versed and with an understanding of what has been happening with the Padres.

"The impressive thing was they weren't playing really good baseball halfway through the season last year. Then the last two months of the year, they caught the nation's attention," Ludwick said. That carried over this year. ... I think a lot of people weren't giving this team a chance.

"They [critics] were surprised after the first month, then the second month, here we are going into August and they have the best record in the National League. It's not a surprise anymore. From an outsider looking in, it's obviously something special."

Ludwick, acquired on Saturday from the Cardinals in a three-team trade that also included the Indians, did not start Sunday's game against the Marlins but provided a spark in the sixth inning, when he lined a pinch-hit single to left and later scored on a double by Jerry Hairston Jr.

"I'll never forget it," Ludwick said. "I slid across home plate, and I had guys pumping their fist and fired up. A lot of excitement."

Ludwick then finished the game in right field and flew out to left in his other plate appearance in the eighth inning.

Padres manager Bud Black said prior to Sunday's game that Ludwick would start in right field and hit fourth, but Black later decided to leave Ludwick out of the starting lineup, partly because he wanted the Padres' medical staff to monitor a calf strain that landed Ludwick on the disabled list from June 26 through July 24 and partly to simply let Ludwick "settle in."

"I just changed my mind, you could say," Black said. "He's coming off this calf thing ... so I think it was a good thing to have our guys look at him. He felt ready to go, [but] thinking it over a little bit, I just thought, 'Let's wait, and if the case came up today [for him to pinch-hit], let's use him,' and it did.

Black said Ludwick will likely be in the starting lineup when the Padres open a four-game series in Los Angeles on Monday.

The Padres acquired Ludwick, 32, to add a thumper to their lineup. He certainly fits the bill, having slugged 70 home runs for the Cardinals since 2008.

"I'm just excited, obviously," Ludwick said. "This is a winning ballclub. I'm excited to do whatever I can to help this team win. I have good memories over there, but I keep telling people it's a new chapter here. I think excitement is the key word."

Ludwick, who will wear jersey No. 47, admitted it was tough leaving St. Louis, a place where he blossomed into an All-Star and a legitimate power threat.

"It was emotional leaving there, saying goodbye to all those guys," Ludwick said. "You spend three and half years in a place that kind of paved the road to success, it's tough. As a player, you know that this is a business and this happens. It's not the first time I've been traded. This isn't anything new for me."

Ludwick was drafted by the A's in the second round in 1999. He was later traded to the Rangers in 2002 and then to the Indians in '03. He signed with the Tigers in '05 and spent '06 in the Minor Leagues. Finally, signed a free agent deal with the Cardinals in the winter of '06.

In 2008, Ludwick hit .299 with 37 home runs and 113 home runs. He was named to his first All-Star team that season.

"I just try to play a hard nine innings every time I go on the field," Ludwick said. "It's a new chapter here, let's get it going."