Kottaras joins club, says he's honored to wear uniform
By John Bailey
MILWAUKEE -- The happiest man in Miller Park before the Cardinals took on the Brewers Saturday was newly acquired back-up catcher George Kottaras.
“It was just an honor to be chosen by the Cardinals,” said the 31-year-old journeyman catcher who was released this week by the Cleveland Indians and claimed by the Cardinals off waivers. “I was ecstatic when I got the call.”
When Kottaras left Phoenix Friday night to join the Cards in Milwaukee, he saw they were losing 6-0. By the time he arrived, they had won 7-6.
Kottaras spent two and a half years with the Brewers, a tenure made memorable for Cards’ skipper Mike Matheny because Kottaras hit a long home run that hit the darkened area in dead centerfield during Matheny’s first year as Cardinal manager.
Kottaras broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 2008 and in 2010, went to the Brewers where he played until mid-season 2012. Oakland, Kansas City, and Cleveland were the next stops until his release and claim by the Cardinals to back up Tony Cruz.
He is known as a better hitter than a catcher, although his best year at the plate he batted only .252 in 2011 with Milwaukee. In 2012 when he played for three different teams, Kottaras hit 12 home runs in 85 games but hit just .211.
Kottaras said before Saturday’s game he just wanted to fit in with his new club. Has he amassed any secrets about opposing players that might help the Redbirds? “If I have any secrets about hitters, I’ll share them with the guys,” he smiled. “I’m going to base everything on how they do things here. If they ask me my opinion, I’ll tell them. But I’ll do whatever they ask me to do.”
Kottaras said his new team made him feel welcome as Jon Jay, Tony Cruz and others greeted him in the clubhouse before the game.
“This is great. I’ve seen some of these guys on the other side. But I want to get familiar with how things work here. I don’t want to step on any toes. I like to have fun and keep things loose. We’ll see.”
Kottaras paused and said, “I’m just proud to wear this uniform.”