EVERETT — Andy Bottin wasn’t supposed to reunite with the Everett AquaSox this year.
However, the circumstances behind that reunion have the Sox bench coach feeling very fortunate.
Bottin’s baseball coaching career has come full circle as he’s rejoined the team with which he got his start. But though it was a frightening health situation that led to Bottin’s return, he’s happy to back where it began.
“I love it, it’s good to be home,” the Edmonds native and Camano Island resident said. “I’ve always loved it here and it’s a great organization. Just the whole set-up is really neat and a lot of fun.”
The 65-year-old Bottin is celebrating his 20th season as a minor-league coach in the Seattle Mariners organization, a career that began with a six-year stint with the Sox from 1995-2001. He was originally set to coach this season with Peoria of the rookie Arizona League, where he’s spent his summers since 2008. He managed the team in 2008-09, winning the league title in 2009 and being named the league’s Manager of the Year.
But fate forced Bottin to change his plans in March.
“Surprise, surprise, I had my aorta replaced,” Bottin said,
Bottin had reported to the Mariners’ spring training when a a routine heart test revealed abnormalities.
“There were no signs of anything,” Bottin said. “It was spring training and I was going through my physical. Mitch Storey (one of the Mariners physicians), bless his soul, looked at my past medical records and said I hadn’t had an echocardiogram in a while. So I went in and Randy Roetter, our trainer (with Peoria), got it scheduled for Friday at 3 o’clock. That Sunday I was on a flight back to Seattle; that week I went through the tests; and the following week I had surgery.”
The tests showed Bottin had an enlarged aorta, a defective aortic valve and an aortic aneurysm. On March 21 he underwent open-heart surgery during which both the aorta and the valve were replaced, and the aneurysm was repaired.
“It was a blessing,” Bottin said. “The good lord above was watching out for me.”
While the surgery fixed the problems with Bottin’s aorta, it also resulted in some consequences. The surgery caused stretching in the radial, ulna and median nerves in Bottin’s right arm, affecting Bottin’s ability to use his right hand. While the effects are temporary, Bottin currently is unable to throw or hit fungoes, which are among the duties of all minor-league coaches.
So Bottin not only is undergoing cardiovascular rehabilitation, he’s also having to rehab his hand.
“I’ve had a lot of support from my wife and my family,” Bottin said. “It was one of those things where the alternative would have been a lot worse. I always try to look at things in a positive way — there’s that saying that God’s got everything in control. I just try to stay positive.”
Fortunately, there was an alternative for this season. The Mariners were able to reassign Bottin to his hometown team in Everett, where he’s serving as a bench coach. Bottin’s rehab meant he was unable to accompany the Sox on their initial eight-game road trip against the Tri-City Dust Devils and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, which concluded Wednesday. However, he will be at all of the Sox’s home games, and he’s hoping to be able to join the team on the road beginning with Everett’s three-game trip to Vancouver on July 11-13.
“The Mariners have been really gracious in allowing me to break it in nice and slow and easy,” Bottin said. “It’s kind of a crazy way to get back to Everett, but I’m enjoying it. They’ve been really kind.”
Returning to Everett highlights what was a colorful path to minor-league coaching for Bottin. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 56th round of the 1967 June amateur draft out of Meadowdale High School and spent two years in the Yankee minor-league system.
However, Bottin was drafted again, this time by the United States Army and served served a tour in Vietnam. When he returned, Bottin decided to go a different direction with his career.
“I got released and saw the importance of retirement benefits, with the things that happened, so I ended up becoming a Seattle police officer,” Bottin said.
Bottin spent 20 years with the police department, retiring in 1995. It was connections made during his time in the police department that led to his next 20-year career.
“At that time I was a liaison between the police department, the Mariners and the commissioner’s office,” Bottin explained. “With that I got to know Woody (Woodward, Seattle’s former general manager) and Jim Beattie (Seattle’s former director of player development), and when they asked if I wanted to get back into the game, I said I’d love to. In 1995, I retired from the police department after 20, and 20 years later I’m still here with the Mariners.”
And with his aorta repaired, Bottin is planning on making his second career as a minor-league coach last far longer than his first as a police officer.
“It’s a blessing,” Bottin said. “I’m humbled, I’m excited, I look forward to getting better, getting back into the fold and getting back into baseball.”