Notes: Kotsay MVP of first half

Notes: Kotsay MVP of first half

CHICAGO -- An extremely informal and unscientific clubhouse poll on Friday resulted in a collection of Mark Kotsay's colleagues naming him the A's first-half MVP.

The vote was unanimous in favor of the veteran center fielder, who was batting .279 with six homers and 43 RBIs heading into the Friday opener of a three-game series against the host White Sox. But several of the respondents qualified their answers, and most took more than a little time before making a final decision.

"It's tough because we didn't start playing well until [shortstop Bobby] Crosby came back [from the disabled list May 30]," said hitting coach Dave Hudgens. "And Eric [Chavez] has to be in there, too, because as Chavvy goes, we go. It'd be a lot easier to name an MVP for each month, to tell you the truth.

"But if you have to pin me down, Kotsay's been the most consistent, so he'd be my guy."

Said Chavez: "There's not really one guy who stands out. You could probably name a couple of pitchers. I'd say Kotsay, No. 1; [Justin] Duchscherer, No. 2."

Kotsay's consistency was the common denominator in every vote cast, but his defensive prowess was noted in nearly every instance as well.

"Kotsay's my guy because defensively, he's been as good as you can get," said pitching coach Curt Young. "He makes my pitchers look good, so I'll go with him."

Manager Ken Macha tried to split his vote between Kotsay and Young.

"If it has to be a player, I have to go with Kotsay because he's gotten a lot of key hits, made a lot of key defensive plays, and he's worked well with the younger players," Macha said. "But in the coaching division, I'll go with Curt for his work with the young pitchers."

Said outfield coach Brad Fischer: "I wish Crosby would have played the first half, but it's gotta be Kotsay. He's consistent, he's a clubhouse leader, and people respect the way he plays."

Deal pending? Several media outlets are reporting that the A's and Red Sox have in place a deal that will send righty reliever Chad Bradford to Boston in exchange for disgruntled outfielder Jay Payton.

Payton, who was batting .263 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 55 games when he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Thursday in the wake of a reported confrontation with Boston manager Terry Francona in which Payton complained about playing time.

The A's refuse to comment on the reported deal, but a Boston source confirmed that it will be formally completed after Bradford, who had back surgery this spring and is currently on a rehab assignment in the Minors, is activated from the 60-day disabled list.

The source added that Bradford will have to clear a series of physicals, and that Boston has a contingency deal in place should Bradford not clear any of them.

Second-rounder signs: The A's announced that they have signed their second-round selection from the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, right-handed pitcher Craig Italiano.

Italiano, who attended Flower Mound High School in Texas, was selected with the second round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers as compensation for the loss of free agent Damian Miller. Italiano, whom A's scouting director Eric Kubota said had "maybe the best high school arm in the country this year," will report to rookie ball in Arizona.

The A's have signed 29 of their first 33 selections from the draft.

Dribblers: Lefty Barry Zito, whose start was pushed back a day from Friday to Saturday, said he needed the extra day because he felt some unusual pain in his ribcage after throwing a season-high 124 pitches last Sunday. Zito on Friday stressed that he's now pain-free. ... Eric Byrnes started against Chicago righty Jon Garland despite his .200 batting average against right-handed pitching this year because he was 3-for-7 against Garland in his career, while Bobby Kielty was 2-for-20. ... Erubiel Durazo, on the DL with a bum elbow, took batting practice against coaches in Arizona on Thursday and Friday. Macha said Durazo will stay in Arizona at least through the All-Star break.

Up next: Zito (5-8, 4.07 ERA) squares off with White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle (10-2, 2.58 ERA) on Saturday in the second game of the series.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.