BOSTON The Los Angeles Angels acquired slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, a bold trade that further bolsters the team with the best record in the major leagues.
The Angels, with a whopping 11 1/2-game lead in the AL West and primed for a World Series run, sent first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek to Atlanta.
"Hopefully, I can just go over there and be one more piece of the puzzle," Teixeira said before the Braves hosted St. Louis.
The deal came two days before baseball's deadline for making trades without waivers. Teixeira was among the top names in the rumor mill and should boost a club that wanted to add another big bat to back its potent pitching staff.
"We're pleased to bring Mark into the Angels family," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said. "He is a tremendous player, and we feel he will impact our club in a very positive way."
Teixeira is hitting .283 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs. The 28-year-old star is in the final year of his contract.
Atlanta acquired Teixeira last July 31 at the trading deadline in a seven-player deal that sent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Texas. The Braves missed the playoffs, and this deal gives Teixeira his best chance to play in the postseason for the first time.
"They have the best team is baseball. I'm not going to go over there and make them any different, other than just hopefully add a few more runs. They have all the pitching they need, they have great defense," Teixeira said.
"It's a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed my time here. I had a great year here. I love this team. I love this organization. I love this city. It's tough to leave. But at the same time I have a great opportunity in Anaheim and I'm looking forward to it," he said. "The last couple days I knew it was coming, so I prepared for it."
A two-time Gold Glove winner, Teixeira has hit at least 26 home runs in every season since making his big league debut with Texas in 2003. He hit a career-high 43 homers and was an All-Star in 2005, and has had four straight years with at least 100 RBIs.
Beset by injuries, the Braves have struggled below .500 this year and fallen to the fringe of the NL East race.
"This is obviously not the way we wanted the season to end and go forward. We look at it as building for the future," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
The Angels, meanwhile, took a 65-40 record into Tuesday night's game at Boston. They won their only World Series title in 2002, and have spent millions more trying to win another title.
The switch-hitting Teixeira joins Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter in a lineup that combines a blend of power, timely hitting and speed.
Kotchman was hitting .287 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs, and homered in Monday night's win at Fenway Park. At 25, the Angels liked his future but with Teixeira available, they looked at their future this October.
"I'm just excited to go to Atlanta and play for (manager) Bobby Cox," Kotchman said before leaving Fenway Park for the airport. "At the same time, my teammates here, to leave them, I'll be pulling for them. Other than that, there's really not a whole lot I can say."
Kotchman had been in the Angels lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox, batting second and playing first base. He was replaced at first by Robb Quinlan, who batted eighth.
Within a few days, Teixeira will be occupying that spot for the Angels. He said his family planned to stay in the California guest house of his agent, Scott Boras, for the time being.
Teixeira said there was time when he would've signed a deal with Atlanta and bypassed the possibility of free agency.
"I was always open for it. This whole year I was open for it. But that's business. It just didn't work out," he said. "I loved it here. I really did. I wanted to stay here for the rest of my career. But business is business. Sometimes you have to move on and I'm looking forward to moving on to LA.
"I told everybody that I loved playing here. I love this team. I love Bobby Cox. He's an amazing man. He's an amazing manager. When my career is over I'm going to be able to tell my kids and my grandkids that I played for Bobby Cox and I played with Chipper Jones and I played with John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. Those are things I'm going to be proud of."
Marek, a 24-year-old righty, was 2-6 with three saves and 3.66 ERA as a reliever at Double-A Arkansas.
PHILLIES PUT FELIZ ON DISABLED LIST: Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz went on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back injury before Philadelphia's game against the Nationals on Tuesday.
Feliz had missed the Phillies' previous three games, so the move is retroactive to Friday. He's hitting .256 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs this season.
"Today when he came to the ballpark, we could tell he was hurting," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Feliz was sent back to Philadelphia on Tuesday and Greg Dobbs was in the lineup at third base.
Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett will split time until one of them "gets hot," Manuel said. "We'll see who wants to play there whoever does the best."
The Phillies, who entered the day a half-game behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East, also recalled infielder Mike Cervanek and left-hander J.A. Happ from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Happ takes the roster spot of struggling right-hander Adam Eaton, who accepted an assignment to the minor leagues Monday.
Happ made two starts for the Phillies earlier this season, with a 3.27 ERA and no decisions. He went 7-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 20 appearances 19 starts for Lehigh Valley.
Manuel said he planned to have Happ in the bullpen at the outset, but that the pitcher could wind up starting.
"We're trying to get our starting pitching straightened out where we like it," Manuel said. "We're trying to still find the best starting rotation we can put on the field."
Eaton was 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA in 21 games with Philadelphia this season and was dropped from the starting rotation. He allowed three runs in two innings against Atlanta on Sunday.
RANGERS' BLALOCK BACK ON DL: Former All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday by the Texas Rangers with right shoulder inflammation, his third physical problem this season.
All-Star shortstop Michael Young did play Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners despite a small fracture in his right ring finger. He was hurt in the first inning of Monday night's game and the team said late Monday night that Young was expected to miss five to seven days after X-rays confirmed the fracture.
But on Tuesday, Young took batting practice and fielded ground balls before hitting second for the Rangers.
Blalock, who has been the subject of trade rumors, was scratched from Monday night's game against Seattle with what the club announced was an upset stomach. On Tuesday, manager Ron Washington said it was his fault the team released erroneous information about Blalock to reporters at the start of Monday night's game.
PIRATES' LAROCHE OUT WITH RIB INJURY: The Pittsburgh Pirates put first baseman Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of a strained muscle in his ribcage and called up infielder Brian Bixler from Triple-A Indianapolis.
LaRoche was hurt while swinging during an at-bat in the sixth inning of a 3-1 loss to San Diego on Sunday. He left the game an inning later and sat out Pittsburgh's 8-4 win over Colorado on Monday.
LaRoche is hitting .265 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs. He hit .390 in July with seven home runs and 18 RBIs and had homered three times in his past three games.
ROCKIES PLACE PODSEDNIK ON 15-DAY DL: The Colorado Rockies have put outfielder Scott Podsednik on the 15-day disabled list because of a non-displaced fracture of his left pinky.
The Rockies made the move Tuesday, retroactive to Monday.
Podsednik was hitting .263 with one home run and 15 RBIs in 75 games for the Rockies with 10 stolen bases. He was 3-for-5 with two steals Sunday against Cincinnati.
FORMER RED SOX CATCHER DIES AT 69: Russ Gibson, a catcher on the Boston Red Sox team that went to the 1967 World Series, has died. He was 69.
He died Sunday after a long illness, the Red Sox said. On the same day that Gibson died in Swansea, Mass., Dick Williams, the manager of that team, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Gibson was a rookie on the 1967 team whose season was called the "Impossible Dream," having reached the World Series after finishing ninth in the 10-team AL in 1966. The Red Sox lost the World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
After spending 10 years in the minors, Gibson made it to the majors in 1967 and hit .203 with one homer and 15 RBIs for Boston that year. He struck out in his only two at-bats in the World Series.