It won't sell many tickets, or satiate the unhappy Mets fan base. But in signing Frank Catalanotto to a minor-league deal yesterday, the Mets at least provided a buzz for Long Island.
Catalanotto, a product of Smithtown East High School and C.W. Post who lives in Head of the Harbor with his wife and four daughters, soon will report to the Mets' major-league spring-training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with the hopes of winning a job off the bench.
"I'm thrilled to be with the Mets," Catalanotto said. "I've always wanted to play in New York and be near my family. It's always been a dream of mine."
A lefty hitter with average power, Catalanotto, 35, had a .346 on-base percentage and .382 slugging percentage while hitting .278 in 162 plate appearances with Milwaukee last season. He has a .292 career average in 13 major-league seasons.
The Mets, badly in need of lefthanded-hitting production, will take a good look at Catalanotto, who had a .364 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage against righties in 2009.
"Omar [Minaya, the Mets' general manager] said he needed a good lefthanded hitter off the bench," Catalanotto said. "I know I'd have more opportunities, more at-bats in the American League as a designated hitter. But Omar said there would be some playing time in the outfield and at first base. And he thought they'd pinch hit a lot. This is an excellent opportunity."
A 10th-round selection by the Tigers in the 1992 amateur draft, Catalanotto had gone from Detroit to Texas to Toronto back to Texas. The Rangers released him in spring training last year despite owing him $4 million plus a $2-million buyout, and he wound up signing with the Brewers.
He played rightfield, leftfield and second base last year and also has played first base.