Journeyman Casey Kotchman, in Marlins camp on a minor-league contract, has the best career fielding percentage among active first basemen (.9977), which makes him an obvious candidate to start if Logan Morrison isn’t ready for opening day.
“He gives us a proven major-league first baseman,’’ manager Mike Redmond said. “He’s going to have to earn it, but it’s nice to have him in camp.’’
Kotchman, who signed Friday, is a .262 career hitter who has played for six teams in the last six years. But one constant has been his glove.
He set a major-league record June 20, 2010, by playing in his 239th consecutive errorless game. He posted the best fielding percentage among first baseman from 2009 through ‘11.
“Any time you can help your team out on defense, it’s a privilege. You save your pitcher pitches on his pitch count, your infielder on errors,’’ said Kotchman, who finished fourth in fielding percentage last year, making a career-high six errors while playing for Cleveland.
Marlins infielder Chone Figgins, Kotchman’s former teammate with the Angels (2004-08), recalled making many throws across the diamond that hit the dirt or were off target. He said Kotchman always managed to snag them and complete the putout.
“He is so calm over there, it’s almost like it’s not real,’’ Figgins said. “I’ve played with some really good ones — (Darin) Erstad, (Scott) Spiezio — but he has to be the top one.’’
Kotchman’s bid to make the team depends in large part on the health of Morrison, who is coming off right knee surgery Sept. 10.
Morrison, who is trying to open his first season at first base after playing most of his first three seasons in left field, is scheduled to be examined by a doctor Tuesday. He hopes to be cleared for full running activities.