ATLANTA Casey Kotchman is thrilled to be with the Atlanta Braves.
Despite going from a team that has the best record in the majors to one that has essentially given up on contending this season, the Braves' new first baseman had no complaints about the trade that sent slugger Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels.
"I'll be pulling for them over there," Kotchman said before his first game in Atlanta. "But I'm really excited to be a Brave now."
Kotchman took over Teixeira's locker in the Turner Field clubhouse and batted third for the game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Beset by injuries, the Braves have fallen well below .500 and have little hope of rallying in the NL East, which is why they decided to trade Teixeira before he left as a free agent at the end of the season.
"I was excited to come back to the East Coast," said Kotchman, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla. "This is closer to home, obviously, so I'm really excited to be here."
The 25-year-old Kotchman was hitting .287 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs with the Angels, including a two-run shot that accounted for all the scoring in a 2-0 victory over the Braves on June 15.
"I apologize for that," he quipped.
While Kotchman doesn't have Teixeira's power, Braves manager Bobby Cox was happy with the deal. He knew the team didn't really have a choice the way things are going this season.
"We were really, really lucky to get a guy of this caliber," Cox said. "It was going to be impossible to keep Tex here."
Even though Kotchman knows he'll likely be watching his former team in the playoffs the Angels have a commanding lead in the AL West he's already moved on.
"Pour everything into the present and you won't have any regrets in the future," he said. "That's how I was raised."