PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Frank Catalanotto cracked a pinch-hit two-run home run in the eighth inning of yesterday's 10-5 loss to the Cardinals as the battle for the Mets' last bench spot comes down to spring training's final week.
Catalanotto is vying with Mike Jacobs and Chris Carter; all are lefthanded hitters. Catalanotto has the edge in versatility, Jacobs in power and Carter in that he is having the best spring and already is on the 40-man roster.
Catalanotto is hitting .192 with one home run and seven RBIs. Jacobs, who hit two absolute bombs that were stopped by the wind Saturday, is at .161-2-4. Carter, who went 1-for-2 yesterday, is at .417-3-8.
"I don't have a read one way or another what's going to happen here," Smithtown product Catalanotto said. "It's a little bit frustrating. I haven't been in this position since probably 1997 or '98. Every year I went to camp, I knew I was on the team. So it's a little bit tough trying to play it out in your head, trying to think about what they might do."
Catalanotto, 35, debuted in the majors in 1997 with Detroit. He is a .292 hitter in a 13-year big-league career. He lockers next to Jacobs and Carter. Chances are two of those three will not be heading north for Opening Day.
"Jake and I have become real good friends," Catalanotto said. "We play cards every day. We're pulling for each other. Today we said, 'Hey, maybe there's a way both of us can be on this team.' "
Manager Jerry Manuel said the decision could go right down to the end of spring training.
Jose Reyes had another good day doing individual drills. The next step is live batting practice, which could take place as early as Monday . . . Oliver Perez will start against the Marlins at home and Jon Niese faces the Nationals in Viera Monday . . . Ryota Igarashi (7.36 ERA), pitching for the second straight day, allowed three runs in one inning. Pitching coach Dan Warthen said his fastball was 4-5 mph slower than it was Saturday.