This is my 15th year in the big leagues, and I am still having fun. There is no other reason to play this long. You have to enjoy the game, and I've definitely enjoyed every year of it.
I landed in a good spot this year with the Brewers. I signed up for a role that I have been playing the last couple of years. I play a utility role and a pinch-hit role. I play in the outfield and usually back up at first base. I am also here to bring some veteran leadership, and I hope to be a part of something that is great.
I started transitioning to this role following my second back surgery in 2009. Coming back from that, I knew that I would probably not be able to perform to the level I did when I was younger. So, when I was with Boston, I settled into the role of a utility player. I had some success. I followed that up with two seasons with the White Sox, and now I have landed here.
It is great to still be here and enjoying the game, the competitiveness and the camaraderie in the clubhouse.
When I was breaking into the big leagues with Florida, I played with some guys who were in the role that I find myself in now. Guys like Jim Eisenreich and John Cangelosi, and Dave Hansen who was an accomplished pinch-hitter when I was in San Diego. Then you look at a guy like Matt Stairs and the home runs he has hit as a pinch-hitter. I have watched guys like that, and I've seen how they have done it. I try to pick up some tidbits here and there. It is helpful.
While it is nice to bring experience and wisdom, you still have to perform. At this level, it is mainly about results. Our results matter, and we care very much about them. Even though the general public may think we don't really care that we are hitting .200, we do. It bothers each one of us. Nobody likes not performing to their abilities. I try to keep an even keel when it comes to the positives and the negatives.
I also have to realize that there is a balance between your competitiveness and your ability to perform. I need to balance that I am a father, a husband, and I want to have a role in my children's lives.
It's fun to watch these guys go out and perform and to be a part of it. It is great to be alongside two young stars like we have in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. But it gets tougher when you become the oldest -- or one of the oldest -- guys on a team. When you go back and forth between leagues like I have, you get to see new faces and you get to see how the rosters have changed. You realize that so many familiar faces are no longer around. A lot of my friends who have retired from the game have told me that they should tear the jersey off your back, because when it is over, it is over.
I don't know when that time will be exactly, but I am sure it will hit me when it is time to hang it up.
Veteran Mark Kotsay has played in 29 games so far this season with the Brewers and is hitting .247. He recently surpassed the 6,000 at-bat plateau, he is four steals away from 100 and he is on pace to reach the 1,700 games played mark later this summer.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.