After 12 seasons in professional baseball, the last five mostly in triple-A with the Omaha Royals, Jose Mota decided to give up his dream of returning to the major leagues.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but Mota is pleased that he made it.
“I went to spring training with the Montreal Expos, and they offered me the opportunity to play regularly at second base in Ottawa, but I made up my mind that there was nothing I could really offer anyone by spending another year in triple-A,” Mota said.
“I didn’t retire because I wasn’t enjoying baseball. But I felt I had been overlooked before, and I didn’t want to go through all that again. I had my family to think of, as well as other priorities.”
Mota, who played on the Cal State Fullerton team that won the College World Series in 1984, considered several options and decided to become a player agent. He joined Chris Arnold, who had been Mota’s agent the last six years.
“I could have gone into coaching in the minor leagues,” said Mota, whose father, Manny, is a coach for the Dodgers. “The door was open for that, but this offers me more control over my time and my traveling, and more opportunity to be with my family.” Mota and his wife, Marie, a teacher, have two young children and live in Glendora.
“The good thing is that this job allows me to still be around the game, but to do it more on my own terms,” Mota said. “I think I’ve learned some things in 12 years, and I can share some of the good experiences as well as the bad ones I’ve had with the players I work with. I’m working now with mostly young players, so it’s fun to be involved with kids just starting out.”
Mota, 32, saw only part-time duty in his last season in Omaha, and it became obvious his chances of getting back to the big leagues were remote. Mota had moved up to the majors twice, with Kansas City and San Diego, but they were short stints: 19 games and 39 at-bats.
“I miss being on the field, but I haven’t missed some of the other things,” Mota said. “My desire to spend more time with my family was overriding everything else.”
One of Mota’s brothers, Andy, has been an agent for several years.
“That competition doesn’t bother me,” Mota said. “There are plenty of ballplayers around for both of us.”
Former Titan Mark Kotsay, the 1995 player of the year in college baseball when Fullerton won the College World Series, is off to a good start this season with Portland, Maine, in the double-A Eastern League.
That comes as no surprise to anyone in the Florida Marlins’ front office, particularly scouting director Orrin Freeman, who chose Kotsay as the ninth player in the first round of last year’s amateur draft.
“We really had no doubts about what Mark could do after seeing him in spring training this year,” Freeman said. “We know he can hit big league pitching. He hit .379 in the spring. That wasn’t always against major league pitching, but it was at least some of the time.”
Kotsay, who signed for a $1.125-million bonus, was batting .293 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs through 58 games with the Sea Dogs.
Freeman said that although Kotsay is doing well in double-A, he might not move up to triple-A this season. “I think the feeling now is to keep that group together in double-A this year,” Freeman said. “Several of our players have made the jump from a year in double-A to the big leagues anyway.”
The Marlins might be reluctant to bring Kotsay up this season, preferring to not have to protect him in the expansion draft. Portland Manager Fredi Gonzalez has been giving Kotsay experience in right and left field, as well as in his normal center-field position, so he can be ready for whatever spot opens.
One of Kotsay’s teammates for three seasons at Fullerton, catcher Brian Loyd, ran into some bad luck early in the season. A broken bone in his right arm has put Loyd on the sidelines for the last four weeks.
Loyd was hit by a pitch while playing for the San Diego Padres’ Class-A Clinton, Iowa, team in the Midwest League.
Loyd, who played at El Dorado High, was batting .260 with nine runs batted in and 15 runs scored in 23 games before he was injured.
“I’m just waiting it out now,” Loyd said. “I’ve got about two weeks of rehabilitation left before I can start playing again. It was pretty disheartening because I was playing every day and feeling good when it happened. I turned to move away from a pitch, and it hit me in the forearm.”
Loyd was home in Fullerton for a couple of weeks, but is back with the team now.
“We still have about a month and a half of our season left, so I’m hoping that I can still get in 100 at-bats or so,” Loyd said.
Loyd, who graduated from Fullerton in December, hopes he’ll have the opportunity to play winter ball, particularly since he’s missing so much of this season.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
TOUR OF THE WEST
A Team-by-Team Look at the Western Baseball League
Grays Harbor Gulls
Location: On Grays Harbor, a two-hour drive southwest of Seattle.
Club established: 1995.
Ownership: A group of five local business people.
Manager: Charlie Kerfeld, who pitched four years for the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves, finishing with an 18-9 record and 4.20 earned-run average. Kerfeld, 33, was born in Knob Noster, Mo.
Most famous alumni: Eric Estes, who plays for the Frederick Keys, Baltimore’s Class A affiliate in the Carolina League.
Home stadium: Olympic Stadium, built in 1932, has a capacity of 7,500.
Hoquiam baseball history: Had a team--the Ports/Loggers--in the Class A Northwest League from 1978-81.
Grays Harbor is famous for: Kurt Cobain grew up here.
Next play Vigilantes: Tonight-Thursday, at Mission Viejo.
Information provided by Grays Harbor Gulls.