Athletics

Kotsay details how MLB journey landed him A's manager job

Athletics

There's a new leader at the helm as the Athletics prepare to head in a new direction. 

When long-time manager Bob Melvin left to join the San Diego Padres on Oct. 28, the A's were in an unfamiliar situation as they prepared yet again to toe the line between rebuilding and competing, but without a manager. 

The A's officially announced former outfielder and third base coach Mark Kotsay as the next manager of the team Tuesday afternoon after news broke late Monday night. 

Kotsay, along with vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst, held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to introduce the A's newest coach. 

Beane and Forst were nothing but impressed with the hard work and preparation Kotsay did in preparing for this opportunity. 

“It was pretty clear that Mark [Kotsay] when he was playing and when he’s done playing, he was on a mission to do everything he could to prepare himself to be a major league manager," Beane told reporters. "That came through in the interim period between him playing, being a coach and then also came through right when he stepped foot in the first five minutes of the interview.

"Mark didn’t take anything for granted in the interview, he came as prepared as you possibly could be despite the fact that he’s known David [Forst] and I for nearly 20-plus years. That really impressed all of us. He could have sort of taken for granted that he knew us and he didn’t. He prepared as if he never knew us and at the end of the day it was a very difficult decision but we felt like myself, David and the rest of (us) felt like Mark was the right guy to lead us forward.”

 

The Kotsay hire (in retrospect), is an obvious one. A fan-favorite as a player with the organization for four seasons from 2004-2007 to a well-respected coach and mentor, Kotsay's hire was years in the making.

“This really does feel like it’s been 18 years in the making," Forst said. "We traded for Mark in 2003 just before the 2004 season. Most people probably wouldn’t guess that he only spent four years of his 17-year career with the A’s because he’s always been identified so much with this organization.

"I would say that Mark is one probably a few guys that I have kept in touch with after leaving as a player, regardless of where else they went. It’s Mark Kotsay, Mark Ellis, Scott Hatteberg, it’s a small group of people who were here and impacted the organization in a way that it’s obvious you want to bring them back in some capacity."

Kotsay, who served most recently as third base coach under Melvin, had learned a lot from his former boss and is thankful for the guidance and friendship the former A's manager has provided over the years. 

“At first I want to start by saying how humbled I am, how honored I am to be the 19th manager (of the Oakland Athletics)" Kotsay told reporters. "Ultimately, I feel blessed to sit here and be chosen to lead this organization going forward into our new era. As Billy [Beane] mentioned, I’m very humbled to have had the opportunity to work on the staff with our former manager Bob Melvin. The respect that I have for Bob, the admiration I have for Bob, I think our relationship has grown over the last six years and I feel confident that any time I need to reach out to Bob and seek advice, I have that friendship there. So I’m very thankful for that.”

Kotsay, who wears his heart on his sleeve much more than Melvin did, is embracing the emotions that come with being a coach in the major leagues and navigating a group of players through many months of ups and downs. 

“I really see myself as someone who comes across as transparent, someone who cares," Kotsay said. "I want players to know that I care about them first and foremost and I think that comes across. I think the relationships that I've developed inside this organization if you get an opportunity to talk to – whether it’s baseball operations, front office, whether it’s player development – I think the care factor is at the top of my list. Obviously, I’m an open book, I may have some emotion that comes across at times, good and bad. But I think the players understand that I’m there for them.”

 

One of the most impressive things about Kotsay is his long, extensive career in the game of baseball. As a player and a coach, the 46-year-old has spent 24 years in the league playing for seven different teams throughout his 17-year career, learning from numerous managers and now coaching for the past seven years. 

“Over the period of time for my playing career, I played for 17 years, I’ve coached for the last seven," Kotsay added. "So all the data and knowledge comes from that history of being in professional baseball for 25 years. The day-in-and-day-out management of the responsibility of a manager, I’ve watched and learned. I’ve had some unbelievable mentors.

"Dave Roberts is a personal friend, Craig Counsell is also a personal friend. And then to receive phone calls from Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy, Buddy Black, all men that I admire and all men that I've either played under, coached for, worked with, been peers in the game. So I think the knowledge that they’ve passed on, the knowledge that I'm able to gain going forward, the staff that’s around me. I’m excited about this opportunity and once we get started we’ll definitely hit the ground running.”

RELATED: Why A's hiring Kotsay as new manager is so 'exciting'

The A's managerial job was not Kotsay's first interview for such a position. The former player has now interviewed on five separate occasions, getting turned down for each one of them. He wasn't going to rely on his personal connections with Beane and Forst and his extra preparation certainly paid off. 

“I completely prepared in a manner that I prepared for my five previous managerial interviews," Kotsay said. "Obviously going through those five experiences, those humbling experiences of coming out on the wrong side of it, I knew not to take anything for granted. Relationships are valuable but they’re not everything. Nor did I want to go into this process thinking I was a lead candidate, I went into this process with five other very strong candidates.”

Now, Kotsay is ready to take the next step and lead a young Athletics team in the place he will continue to call home. 

“I’ve played for seven different teams, seven different organizations obviously," Kotsay added. "And really, this is the organization that I call home. When people talk about my playing career, the reflection is generally Mark Kotsay’s A’s years. I couldn’t be happier about that, I couldn’t be more excited about being chosen as (the manager) of the Oakland Athletics … this is home and I couldn’t be more excited.”