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A native of Whittier, California, Kotsay was selected by the Florida Marlins the 9th pick of the Amateur Draft in 1996 out of Cal State Fullerton. In 1995, Kotsay won the Golden Spikes Award and was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series, as CS-Fullerton won its third Series championship. In addition to being an outfielder, Kotsay was a closer in college; he pitched the final five outs to clinch his team's CWS title.
Florida Marlins and San Diego PadresEdit
Kotsay appeared in 14 games for the Marlins in 1997 before taking over as the team's center fielder in 1998. He was moved to right field after Gary Sheffield was traded, a position better suited for the strong throwing arm which Kotsay regularly showed off. As a rookie, he led all National League outfielders with 20 assists, and led them again in his second year with the same number. In 2000, he led all right fielders with 13 assists. At the plate, Kotsay was an average hitter during these years, hitting around .280 with occasional power and the occasional stolen base. Kotsay was traded in 2001, barely a week before Opening Day, to the San Diego Padres as part of a deal for Matt Clement. Moved back to center field, Kotsay improved his hitting, but he recorded only four outfield assists. This can be largely attributed to the fact that few chose to run on Kotsay. Over the next two seasons, however, Kotsay was defensively back on form, leading all National League center fielders in that category. After his batting average slipped to .266 in 2003, Kotsay was traded to the Athletics for Terrence Long and Ramón Hernández.
With Oakland in 2004, Kotsay found his stroke and batted a career best .314, along with his customary strong arm afield; he led American League center fielders with 11 assists. With Oakland, he batted second in the team's lineup with a career .287 average.
On July 9, 2005, the Athletics announced that Kotsay and the team had come to terms on a three-year, $29 million contract extension. The extension keeps Kotsay under contract with the Athletics through the 2008 season and includes a no-trade clause through the 2006 season. News of the contract extension ended speculation that Kotsay would be traded to a team in need of a starting center fielder, such as the New York Yankees.
The 2006 season marked Kotsay's first-ever appearance in a postseason game, as the Oakland Athletics clinched the 2006 AL West Division title. On October 4, he hit his first postseason home run against Minnesota Twins pitcher Dennys Reyes for a two run inside-the-park home run which scored Jason Kendall that put the Oakland A's ahead 4 to 2, leading his team to win Game 2 of the ALDS.
Kotsay underwent back surgery during spring training 2007, and missed the first two months of the 2007 campaign.
On January 14, 2008 after passing a physical, Kotsay was officially traded to the Atlanta Braves along with $5.3 million of his $7.3 million salary from the Oakland Athletics for Joey Devine and prospect Jamie Richmond.
On August 14, 2008, Kotsay became the first Atlanta Brave to hit for the cycle since Albert Hall did it in 1987. He doubled to right in the 7th inning against Bob Howry of the Chicago Cubs. The double that completed the cycle was also Kotsay's 1,500th career hit. He would hit another single in the 9th inning to have his third career 5-hit game and first since 2005. However, despite the great effort, the Braves lost to the Cubs 11-7.
Boston Red SoxEdit
On August 27, 2008, Kotsay was traded to the Boston Red Sox for minor league outfielder Luis Sumoza in order to bolster the Red Sox outfield while J. D. Drew was on the disabled list. Kotsay became the everyday right fielder for the Red Sox until Drew's return. During the playoffs, Kotsay filled in at third base for the injured Mike Lowell.
Kotsay became a free agent after the 2008 season. After a free-agency period which he himself described as "not pleasurable", he re-signed with the Red Sox on January 9, 2009 to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million plus incentives. He projects to be the backup of Kevin Youkilis at first base, as well as playing backup outfield when needed, along with fellow signee Rocco Baldelli.
On January 29, 2009, Kotsay underwent surgery to remove a displaced disc fragment in his back. The timetable for his return in unknown, and the possibility that he would miss the start of the season prompted the Red Sox to sign outfielder Brad Wilkerson to a minor league deal. Dr. Robert Watkins performed the procedure.
Kotsay and his wife Jamie, have two daughters, Grace and Sienna and one newborn son Trey.