07/31/09 8:58 PM ET
Red Sox acquire Kotchman for LaRoche
Braves bring veteran first baseman back to Atlanta
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
A playful Ortiz bellowed to nobody in particular, "I was just falling in love with LaRoche!"
When Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein acquired LaRoche from the Pirates last week, the hope was that he could be a corner bat who could provide some thunder. LaRoche did nothing to disprove that theory, belting a homer in his first start for Boston last Saturday.
It's just that when the hours whittled down before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, Epstein found an even more impactful bat -- a switch-hitter who could catch and play first base. So once the trade with the Indians was made for Victor Martinez, the Red Sox no longer had room for LaRoche.
"This is a first for me," said LaRoche. "There have been a lot of firsts in my last seven days. Disappointing? Absolutely. I was pretty comfortable here. This team is an unbelievable team. Not just on the field, but the kind of guys and the class of the organization. I was looking forward to being a part of that for a couple months. It didn't work. It's nice to be going somewhere where I've been before. I'm comfortable there."
Meanwhile, Kotchman was moving in a Deadline deal for the second successive year. Last year, he was traded from the Angels to the Braves in the Mark Teixeira blockbuster.
"I'm a little surprised, but not overwhelmingly surprised with how the game is and how the business is," Kotchman said.
As an everyday player for the Braves this season, Kotchman hit .282 with six homers and 41 RBIs. He is a terrific defender, which could come in use in the late innings on days Martinez is playing first.
"LaRoche did a nice job while he was here," said Epstein. "We felt all along like he was the best fit for us if he had close to everyday at-bats, at least every day against right-handed pitching at-bats at first base.
"With the addition of Victor Martinez, now there aren't quite as many at-bats available at first base. With LaRoche's timing mechanism with his swing and with his approach in general, he kind of needs to play to be productive. He needs to play every day or close to it, whereas Casey Kotchman has a little different approach at the plate that might play better in a little different type of role."
LaRoche hit .263 in 19 at-bats for Boston, adding a homer and three RBIs. He spent the first three seasons of his career with Atlanta.
Kotchman will join the Red Sox in time for Saturday's game at Baltimore.
"I'm looking forward to meeting a new group of guys," Kotchman said. "I'm ready to go to work."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.