Ozzie lobbying for Kotsay's return

Ozzie lobbying for Kotsay's return

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has been voicing his support seemingly in a continual loop this week for veteran mid-season acquisition Mark Kotsay.

Guillen has raved about Kotsay's positive energy in the clubhouse, his ability to encourage younger players and his versatility in the field.

Two home runs in his past two games against the Red Sox sure haven't hurt Kotsay's cause, either.

All of those contributions make Kotsay the perfect candidate to return to the White Sox for 2010, according to Guillen, who has said that he would fight for Kotsay to stay with the club next season.

"We're going to have a veteran player next year," Guillen said. "I don't know who it's going to be. But I don't mind having this kid back."

Kotsay certainly appreciates the recent vote of confidence from his skipper.

"It's definitely a compliment," Kotsay said. "I think Ozzie's seen me. We've played against each other. He's heard things from around the league about my personality and professionalism, so, in the short time as far as just being with him, has kind of laid the foundation for that relationship. It's a great compliment. ... It's good to know that I have a manager that appreciates what I can provide to a ballclub."

Kotsay was traded from Boston to Chicago on July 28 for outfielder Brian Anderson. Since joining the White Sox, Kotsay has played in 21 games, hitting .275 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Overall this season, Kotsay has played in 48 games, batting .264 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Over his past two games, Kotsay has gone 4-for-7, hitting his first two home runs in a White Sox uniform, with four RBIs. After being given Sunday afternoon off to rest, he was in the lineup once more for Monday afternoon's series finale against the Red Sox, batting fifth and playing first base.

In Kotsay's previous two games, he started in right field and moved to first base later in the contest. That kind of versatility has provided Kotsay with several opportunities to crack the lineup in Chicago, and he certainly has taken advantage of it, playing all three outfield positions at least once, as well as several games at first base.

At this stage of Kotsay's 13-year baseball career, the finish line is much closer than the starting blocks, and appearing as an everyday starter is becoming less and less likely each season. But Kotsay realizes that fitting in where teams need him still allows him a way to contribute at the big league level.

"I think it gives me more of an opportunity, for sure," Kotsay said. "When I played every day, I didn't really expect to end my career with a first baseman's glove on. But if you want to continue in a uniform, the older you get, the more injury-prone, injury history you have. You kind of make adjustments and just adapt to the roles that are there for you."

Guillen said he thought Kotsay still had some gas left in the tank to contribute next season as well, albeit not on an everyday basis.

"I played him back-to-back days," Guillen said. "He told me, 'Bench me or trade me.' But I think he can help a lot of teams doing his role. Can he play every day? I think he can, but physically it's going to be tough on him, because of the positions he plays. I don't mind him back here."

With the trade to the White Sox, Kotsay now has played for six different Major League ballclubs in his career. Like Guillen, though, Kotsay stated his approval when asked about the possibility of returning to Chicago for another year.

"It would be great to come back and be in a White Sox uniform," Kotsay said. "I love the city and the organization. It's a great honor here. They do things right here, and they want to win. I think at this point, it's just kind of early to speculate on what lies ahead."

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.