Kotsay is just a good guy

SAN FRANCISCO - Leo Durocher once said nice guys finish last. Someone later amended that and said nice guys finish last, good guys finish first.

If there was ever an athlete who fit that definition of being a good guy, it's the Oakland A's Mark Kotsay. With little fanfare, he's won numerous awards for his community service.

He's also known for his all-out play, so it's hard to picture him as a wine and cheese type of guy. That's why it's no suprising to hear where he likes to go in Carson City.

"Mo and Sluggo's is my favorite hangout," said Kotsay before Thursday's exhibition game with the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park, a contest won by the Giants 6-5 in 10 innings.

Kotsay became familiar with Carson City through his wife, Jamie (Scott) Kotsay, a Carson High graduate. The two met while Kotsay was playing for the Florida Marlins and Jamie was a model in Florida.

The two married in 2000 and the Kotsay family now has a home in Reno. "I think we've used Reno as more or less as a vacation home," Kotsay said.

Kotsay said he likes the small-town charm of Carson City. "I think it's a great small city," he said. "I think it's a great place to raise kids."

Besides, Kotsay said when going to the Governor's Mansion, "You can walk up to the front door and knock if you want."

Kotsay doesn't see he and his family settling in Northern Nevada, but he's not ruling out the possibility. "There's nothing written in stone with our life," he said.

Like all players this time of year, Kotsay's looking forward to opening day. "Spring's been good," he said. "We're excited it's wrapping up."

Most experts consider the Los Angeles Angels the team to beat in the American League West, and Kotsay admitted the Angels are the more experienced team. "The Angels are a good ball club," Kotsay said. "We're a young club."

But the A's have been playoff contenders for several years. "It's a goal for everybody," said Kotsay about making the playoffs. "Ever team starts out 0-0. Nobody can be counted out."

And all 162 games count as the A's found out last year, losing the AL West race to the Angels on the final weekend.

"One game last year meant losing the division," and not making the playoffs, Kotsay said.

Kotsay went from the San Diego Padres to the A's in a trade before the 2004 season. He immediately stepped in to fill the role as centerfielder and leadoff hitter.

"I'm a team guy," he said. "Over a 162 games, I'd like to think I contributed to the team's success."

Kotsay has always been known as a solid hitter who can hit for power, but not necessarily as a leadoff hitter.

"I'm not you're prototypical leadoff hitter," he said. "I'm not going to stand there and take pitches. I didn't change my approach."

The approach worked as Kotsay finished eighth in the American League in hitting last year with a .314 average.

Kotsay also takes pride in his defense and has one of the strongest arms in the Major Leagues.

"I love playing defense," Kotsay said. "There's not one particular thing. I like playing in centerfield and having success."

Kotsay said if he goes 0-for-4, but throws out a runner at home plate, "It's a good night. If it's the game-winning run, it's a great night."

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