Sox's Kottaras makes starting debut

Sox's Kottaras makes starting debut

ANAHEIM -- Though George Kottaras got a taste of Major League life in September, even drilling his first hit in a game at Fenway Park, Friday marked the true beginning of his career.

Making his first Major League start, Kottaras was beginning his tenure as Boston's backup catcher, which included the challenging task of handling Tim Wakefield's knuckleball.

The 25-year-old Kottaras came to the Red Sox on Aug. 31, 2006, in a trade for David Wells. After beating out Josh Bard for the backup-catcher spot this spring, Kottaras has transitioned from prospect to player.

"It's very exciting," said Kottaras, who batted ninth against the Angels. "I'm going to stick with what I've been doing all spring and stay relaxed and just go out there and play. It's all I can do. I can't really think about too many things. Just go out there and have fun and try and help [Wakefield] out."

While Kottaras did well catching Wakefield during Spring Training, Friday figured to be a far more pressurized environment.

"I bet you his heart is beating now," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I would hope so. This will be a good test for him tonight. They're going to get on, they're going to run. I think George has done a good job learning Wake in a hurry."

Kottaras, of course, has also been learning the rest of the staff.

"It's both. There's Wake and then there's everybody else," Kottaras said. "It is what it is with him and everything else falls into place with everybody else. It's like two different stances, two different everything. I'm just working on it and once you get in the game, you just play."

The left-handed-hitting Kottaras came into the game a little rusty from an offensive standpoint, having not taken an at-bat in a game since Spring Training.

"Everything feels fine," Kottaras said. "I came in for early batting practice today and felt good."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.