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Kotchman embraces chance with newest team

Signed by Miami to provide depth at first, veteran is on sixth different squad since '09


JUPITER, Fla. -- Moving from team to team can have its advantages.

Casey Kotchman, the newest member of the Marlins, certainly is experiencing some.

"I've been privileged just to have the opportunity to put on different uniforms and meet a bunch of different players that I wouldn't have met if I'd stayed in one place," Kotchman said. "Typically, if you draw it up in your mind, you want to stay in one place. But looking back on it, you have a chance to meet a bunch of new players and teammates and build relationships with everybody."

Kotchman, who turns 30 on Friday, signed a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invitation last Friday. The left-handed-hitting first baseman was on the field with his new team on Saturday morning.

For Kotchman, this is his sixth different team since 2009. In that span, he's also been with the Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, Rays and Indians.

Wherever he's been, Kotchman pretty much has anchored first base. With Miami, the veteran provides insurance at first base because Logan Morrison has yet to be cleared to start running. Chances are Morrison won't be ready for Opening Day.

"It gives us a proven Major League first baseman," manager Mike Redmond said. "With LoMo out, we figured we needed some depth. He's going to have to earn it and go out there. But it's nice to have him in camp, a guy who has proven he can be in the big leagues for a considerable amount of time."

Morrison is recovering from right knee surgery. More on his status will be known on Tuesday after he travels to Vail, Colo., for a medical update from Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the surgery last September.

Morrison has been rehabbing in Jupiter since the start of Spring Training.

"It feels good, but it feels weak, compared to my other leg," Morrison said.

Unlike last year, Morrison said his knee is pain free.

"No pain, nothing like that," he said. "I think if I get cleared to run, it will do a lot to help strengthen it. But the doctor knows more than me."

Morrison understands the decision to sign Kotchman.

"They have to cover themselves, that's fine with me," Morrison said.

A St. Petersburg native, Kotchman broke in with the Angels in '04, and he is happy about playing in his home state.

"The opportunity here, and the proximity to home, in Pinellas County, is good," Kotchman said. "This training staff, and just what they've got going here, with the young talent and a good cast. We all want that chance to put on the big league uniform. Now, I have that opportunity."

Kotchman batted .229 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs with the Indians a year ago. In the field, he again was a standout, posting a .995 fielding percentage (six errors).

Kotchman is known for his glove, and he holds an impressive MLB record for first baseman. He had a streak of 2,379 fielding chances without an error. He set the mark at 2,003 on June 3, 2010, passing Kevin Youkilis' mark. The streak was snapped on Aug. 21, 2010, when he mishandled a Curtis Granderson ground ball. It was his first error since July 20, 2008.

"I really wasn't aware or conscious of it for the most part of it, but it was fun," Kotchman said. "To be able to break it on Father's Day, back when I was with Seattle, that was special to me. Any time you can help your team out on defense, it's a privilege, save your pitcher pitches on his pitch count, infielders' errors. Any time you can pick them up, it's good."

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