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Braves trade Teixeira to Angels
The Braves traded Mark Teixeira to Los Angeles on Tuesday for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek. - photo by The Associated Press

BOSTON — The Los Angeles Angels acquired slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, a bold trade that further bolsters the team with the best record in the major leagues.

The Angels, with a whopping 111/2-game lead in the AL West and primed for a World Series run, sent first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek to Atlanta.

"Hopefully I can just go over there and be one more piece of the puzzle," Teixeira said before the Braves hosted St. Louis.

The deal came two days before baseball's deadline for making trades without waivers. Teixeira was among the top names in the rumor mill, and should boost a club that wanted to add another big bat to back its potent pitching staff.

Teixeira is hitting .283 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs. The 28-year-old star is in the final year of his contract, and has never played in the postseason.

"They have the best team is baseball. I'm not going to go over there and make them any different, other than just hopefully add a few more runs. They have all the pitching they need, they have great defense," Teixeira said.

"It's a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed my time here. I had a great year here. I love this team. I love this organization. I love this city. It's tough to leave. But at the same time I have a great opportunity in Anaheim and I'm looking forward to it," he said. "The last couple days I knew it was coming, so I prepared for it."

A two-time Gold Glove winner, Teixeira has hit at least 26 home runs in every season since making his big league debut with Texas in 2003. He hit a career-high 43 homers and was an All-Star in 2005, and has had four straight years with at least 100 RBIs.

Atlanta acquired Teixeira last July 31 at the trading deadline in a seven-player deal that sent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Texas. Beset by injuries, the Braves have struggled below .500 this year and fallen to the fringe of the NL East race.

"This is obviously not the way we wanted the season to end and go forward. We look at it as building for the future," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

The Angels, meanwhile, took a 65-40 record into Tuesday night's game at Boston. They won their only World Series title in 2002, and have spent millions more trying to win another title.

The switch-hitting Teixeira joins Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter in a lineup that combines a blend of power, timely hitting and speed.

Kotchman was hitting .287 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs, and homered in Monday night's win at Fenway Park. At 25, the Angels liked his future — but with Teixeira available, they looked at their future this October.

"I'm just excited to go to Atlanta and play for (manager) Bobby Cox," Kotchman said before leaving Fenway Park for the airport. "At the same time, my teammates here, to leave them, I'll be pulling for them. Other than that, there's really not a whole lot I can say."

Kotchman had been in the Angels lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox, batting second and playing first base. He was replaced at first by Robb Quinlan, who batted eighth.

Marek, a 24-year-old righty, was 2-6 with three saves and 3.66 ERA as a reliever at Double-A Arkansas.

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