As jobs go, Frank Catalanotto seemed to have it made. As the first recipient of the John and Julio Franco scholarship, the utility player’s job was to pinch hit a few times a week, much like Julio, while being able to live in her permanent home in Smithtown, a la John, who returned to his Staten Island residence after his games at Shea.
Unfortunately for Catalanotto, he didn’t hit – ending up a paltry .160 in 25 games with one RBI.
So the Mets decided to pull the scholarship, designating Catalanotto for assignment and call up Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo, after a hot start down on the farm.
“I don’t necessarily know it came as a surprise,” Catalanotto said.”I wasn’t getting a chance to play much and I knew eventually it may happen, especially if I wasn’t helping the team out and producing.”
What to do next won’t be an easy decision for the pinch hitter, as he seems to enjoy being able to be close to his family. He said his career is “probably over” unless something comes along that is just too good to refuse.
Enter the Subway Series.
With the Yankees coming to Queens next week, would it be too much out of the realm of possibility to see the 36 year-old end up in pinstripes for that series. The Yankees – especially the upper management – take the Subway Series very seriously, and anytime they can tweak the Mets, well so much the better.
They did it in 2000, when the Bombers took a broken down Dwight Gooden and pitched him at Shea for one last hurrah. In the opening game of the home-and-home doubleheader saw Doc shutdown Mike Piazza’s Mets 4-2 in the game before the Roger Clemens beaning.
Then in 2001, the Yankees gobbled up another hometown hero Darren Bragg of Watertown, CT, who was released by the Mets just a week before the annual matchup. Bragg only played five games as a Yankee that season (going 1-4), but was in uniform and ready to play against the Mets at Shea Stadium (he did pinch hit).
So now with Catalanotto out there on the market, it’s not too farfetched to see Yankees taking a shot with him and having him available to pinch hit or even play in the field during the series at Citi Field.
This is not to say it wasn’t the right move the cut Smithtown’s favorite son. It was. Seeing a .160 up there when he pinch hit last night was like wearing sackcloth and ashes and the Mets, devoid of offense, need help coming off the bench.
It’s unfortunate, though, as Catalanotto tried really hard to make the team this season, hitting well the last two weeks in Post St. Lucie to secure his spot.
“I was very proud of myself that the last two weeks of spring training I worked really hard and made the team,” said Catalanotto, who played for five organizations during his 15 year career. “No excuses. I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of opportunities here to play and I had to make the most of what I was given.”