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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kent Bottenfield had tough insides, saw nine majors seasons

Kent Bottenfield 1990 Jacksonville Expos card
Kent Bottenfield and his Cardinals fell behind quickly in this early July 1999 game, but the Cardinals and Bottefield came back.

Bottenfield helped limit the damage from the mound. He also helped at the plate, knocking a two-run double in the 10-4 St. Louis win.

"That's a tough way to play," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa told The Associated Press, "but one thing about Bottenfield, he's got tough insides."

Bottenfield was in the midst of a career year that season in 1999. That victory July 1 gave him 12 on the year, a win total that helped earn him an All-Star nod.

All that success came in his seventh season in the majors - his 14th as a pro. Used as both a starter and a reliever previously in the bigs, his single-season win total never topped five.

Bottenfield's career began in 1986, taken by the Expos in the fourth round of the draft out of Madison High School in Portland, Oregon.

Bottenfield started in the rookie Gulf Coast League, then moved to single-A Burlington in 1987 and single-A West Palm Beach in 1988. He made AA Jacksonville in 1989 and AAA Indianapolis in 1991.

He debuted in Montreal in July 1992. In 10 outings, four starts, he went 1-2, with a 2.23 ERA. He then split 1993 between the Expos and the Rockies, traded mid-year. Overall, he went 5-10, with a 5.07 ERA.

Bottenfield got 16 outings, one start in 1994 between the Rockies and the Giants. He then spent all of 1995 back in the minors.

His career revived in 1996 as a reliever for the Cubs. He got 48 relief outings that year and 64 the next. In late-June 1997, Bottenfield was called upon to shut down an Astros rally. He just had to get past Jeff Bagwell. Bottenfield struck Bagwell out.

"That's when I seem to pitch my best," Bottenfield told The Chicago Tribune. "That's fun. Those are the situations I want to be in every day."

The next year, with the Cardinals, Bottenfield started to get into different situations. In 44 outings, he got 17 starts. Overall, he went 4-6. He then turned full-time starter and had his breakout season in 1999.

Bottenfield went 18-7 for the Cardinals in 1999, getting 31 starts. His ERA came in at 3.97. In late-July, Bottenfield talked to The St. Paul Pioneer Press about how his win total was really in the hands of his team.

"The record is nice. Goals are nice," Bottenfield told The Pioneer Press. "But wins are out of my control."

After that season, Bottenfield played just two more years, picking up just 10 more wins. He last played in 2001 with the Astros.

Bottenfield has since gone on to coach in college. He has also gone into ministry. He was named the head coaching position at Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2012, taking over after the passing of the school's previous head coach, Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Bottenfield continues in that role for 2014.

He started his ministry using baseball in 2004, after he survived a 99 percent blockage in his heart, according to The Springfield State Journal-Register. He also performs Christian music.

"I realized there's a reason for me to be here and I want to take advantage of it," Bottenfield told The State Journal-Register in 2009. "The experience made me stronger; it was a defining moment."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,599
Made the Majors: 784 - 49.0%-X
Never Made Majors: 815-51.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 343-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 199

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