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04/10/09 7:42 PM ET

Ex-Halos saddened by Adenhart tragedy

Kotchman, Anderson upset despite not knowing pitcher well

ATLANTA -- Like so many of their other friends still directly related to the Angels organization, Casey Kotchman and Garret Anderson felt sick when they learned of rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart's tragic passing.

"It was truly a shock," said Anderson, who spent his first 15 Major League seasons with the Angels before signing with the Braves in February.

Late Thursday morning, Anderson started receiving phone calls from friends alerting him that the 22-year-old Adenhart had been killed in a hit-and-run auto accident, just a few hours after he'd tossed six scoreless innings against the A's in his fourth Major League start.

"I didn't really know him all that well, but he seemed like a nice kid, and everybody always had good things to say about him," Anderson said.

Before being part of last July's trade that sent Mark Teixeira to Anaheim, Kotchman had been affiliated with the Angels for most of his life. The organization selected him in the first round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, and his father has served as a Minor League manager in the organization since 1984.

While he hadn't known the pitcher really well, Kotchman felt a tremendous sense of pain on Thursday morning, when his father, Tom, called to tell him of the tragic news.

"My dad was like everybody else; shocked, distraught, sick to your stomach, all of that stuff," Kotchman said. "It's another reminder that every breath is a gift from God. That's not a cliché. It's the truth."

When serving as the manager of the Orem (Utah) Owls in 2005, the elder Kotchman was present for the only start Adenhart made for that club that year. But he got to know the highly regarded prospect pretty well during Spring Training the past few years.

"The way he handles his team, his players are like 25 more sons," Kotchman said. "For my dad, it's more about handling yourself as a person and growing up as a man, more so than winning. The winning takes care of itself. It really is like he has his sons out there playing for him.

"I was just sick to my stomach when he told me what had happened."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.