Cotto finds coaching fulfilling

Cotto finds coaching fulfilling

SEATTLE -- While Henry Cotto spent time with four different teams during his 10 Major League seasons, his post-playing career has been strictly a Mariners affair.

After Cotto hung up his cleats in 1995, he has devoted himself to helping out the young prospects in the organization by embarking on what is becoming an extensive Minor League coaching career.

Cotto is currently in his 13th year with the organization and his second with the Class-A Everett AquaSox, for whom he works as the hitting coach. But during his coaching career with Seattle, he's worked at all different levels of the Minor League spectrum.

"I wanted to go straight to coaching and teaching the young guys that we have my knowledge about the game," he said.

That knowledge comes from those 10 seasons in the big leagues, during which Cotto hit .261 with 44 homers, 210 RBIs and 130 stolen bases.

He began his career with the Cubs in 1984 before moving over to the Yankees for three years and then to Seattle in 1988. He would play with the club until he was traded to Florida in 1993, and one of his best full seasons came in the first Seattle year when he hit eight homers and stole 27 bases. He also hit .305 in 1991, but played in just 66 games.

After playing with Florida, he went to Japan for a season before returning to the Minor Leagues and eventually retiring in 1995.

Now he makes his living helping others reach that elite level with his coaching instruction, such as Mariners second-round pick and AquaSox player Dennis Raben.

Cotto also has ambitions, even as a coach.

ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman

""I think every coach, if you ask, they're going to [say they want] to coach in the big leagues, but if it comes, fine. If not, I still enjoy what I do," he said.

The playing year keeps Cotto on the road and quite busy, but following the season's end he'll get some relaxation.

"In the offseason I stay home and I enjoy my family," he said.

Home for Cotto is Phoenix, Ariz., with his wife, Laura, and two children, Henry Jr. and Claudia.

The family got an extra thrill this season when Henry Jr. was drafted by the Mariners in the 41st round out of GateWay Community college in Phoenix. He's an outfielder like his dad, but hits and throws left-handed.

"I always told him that I don't want him being like me. He's got to be better than me," Cotto said on the day of the draft.

Henry Jr. signed with the club on July 10, and he'll have plenty of help from his father along the way - although the senior Cotto emphasizes that it's his son's skills that allowed him to become part of the organization.

"Well, that's the way the scout from the Mariners saw it and drafted," he said. "It wasn't because of me, it was because the scout liked what he saw and drafted him up."

Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.