It seems like just the other day that Kevin Kouzmanoff was smashing doubles and smothering ground balls for the Padres. Of course it's been over five years and a lot has changed in that time.
After his record-setting 2009 season in which he set the bar for third baseman with a .990 fielding percentage, earning his glove a spot in the Hall of Fame, Kouz was traded to Oakland in order to make room for Chase Headley. Kouzmanoff's performance declined, due in part to back troubles which plagued him his whole career. The A's sent him to Colorado in August, 2011, where he performed decently in 27 games. He then spent the entirety of 2012 and '13 in the minors for the Royals and Marlins, respectively.
The 2014 season brought another minor league deal, this time with the Rangers. Kouzmanoff had offers from other clubs but Texas was the only team to include an invitation to major league spring training. Kouz once again began the season at AAA, but didn't stay there for long. After just four games for Round Rock he was promoted to take the place of superstar third baseman Adrian Beltre,who injured his left quad. The Rangers didn't miss a beat as Kouzmanoff raked from day one, hitting .362/ .412/ .617 (1.029) with six doubles and two home runs in 47 at-bats over 13 games. Unfortunately, right as Beltre was set to return from the disabled list, Kouzmanoff's back lashed out at him once again. He missed the rest of the season, having two back surgeries in the process.
Kouz didn't sign with a team this season, but has not announced his retirement. Whether or not he plays again, I wish him the very best in life. May this birthday and the many more that follow be happy and pain-free.