Kotsay returns to Padres with one-year deal
Veteran outfielder eager to help hometown team 'in any capacity'
SAN DIEGO -- Mark Kotsay's Major League travels have seen him play for seven teams, though there's only one he was particularly pining to play for again -- the Padres.
"There was no secret that I wanted to come back and play here," Kotsay said on Wednesday, the day his one-year deal with the Padres became official.
Kotsay, who turns 36 on Dec. 2, passed his physical and agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million to return to San Diego, where he played for three seasons from 2001-03.
"We are elated to bring Mark back to the Padres," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement. "His versatility and leadership will be invaluable for our club."
A veteran outfielder of 15 big league seasons, Kotsay said he lobbied hard to return here last winter, either as a player or as part of the front office. When the Brewers offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at the chance.
All while hoping he could return to San Diego, where he has owned a home since 2003. He and his family live north of downtown in Rancho Santa Fe in a home they purchased in 2007.
Kotsay, a left-handed hitter who has played all three outfield positions and first base, has a career .278 batting average and hit .270 last season for the Brewers. Kotsay got a start during the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals in Game 3 and hit a home run off Chris Carpenter.
"We had a special club," Kotsay said of the Brewers. "But at this point, all signs pointed to coming back to San Diego. It's tied to multiple things -- my family is here and it gives me a chance to be part of an organization that's growing.
"I still have multiple friends in this organization. I even think the clubhouse staff is still the same. I'm excited."
Three of Kotsay's former teammates -- Trevor Hoffman, Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta -- are a part of the Padres' front office as special assistants. Kotsay also has a relationship with Padres CEO and vice chairman Jeff Moorad, who was Kotsay's former agent.
Kotsay first joined the Padres days before the start of the 2001 season as part of a five-player deal with the Marlins. He had his best season in San Diego in 2002, when he hit .292 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs.
"We had a lot of fun in that stadium and made a lot of great memories," Kotsay said of Qualcomm Stadium, the Padres' home before they moved into their downtown digs of PETCO Park in 2004.
The Padres will likely use Kotsay as a bat off the bench and someone who can play the corner outfield spots as well as first base on occasion.
Among the Padres' needs this offseason was addressing their bench in order to give manager Bud Black more options. The Padres also wanted to improve themselves offensively against right-handed pitching.
Kotsay is a career .280 hitter against righties.
Last season, the Padres ranked last in the Major Leagues in batting average against right-handers (.229), 29th in on-base percentage (.301) and 30th in slugging (.340). The Padres also ranked 28th in baseball in pinch-hitting (.161).
"I'm here for the club in any capacity, whether it be first base, giving a guy a day off, the outfield, pinch-hitting or helping young guys mature," Kotsay said.
"All in all, I want to be a positive influence."