Like the rest of the Mets, Vinny Rottino is a big believer in the team's chemistry. He has a unique perspective, though, because he was a chemistry major before he started a persistent 10-year pro career that finally produced a high point Saturday.
Rottino, 32, hit his first big-league home run in the first inning of the Mets' 9-0 win over the Padres.
"It was a pretty special feeling, running around the bases, just kind of floating around the bases," he said, mindful of how far he had come to make that run.
The catcher/utility player was a Division III All-American at Wisconsin-LaCrosse but was undrafted. He spent a semester studying to be a pharmacist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before earning a contract during a tryout with the Brewers. He has played parts of five seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers, Marlins and Mets, but those have been only small parts.
"I've been grinding it out for 10 years or so," he said, reflecting on his shot to the new Party City Deck in left-centerfield. "I love the game. I play it with passion and heart and I play as hard as I can. And I love being part of a team and helping a team win. That sounds clichéd, but I love helping teammates, to be honest with you. Just being a great teammate and playing as hard as I can, that's what keeps me going."
Mets manager Terry Collins cited Rottino's attitude and industriousness: "He doesn't get down when he gets sent to the minor leagues. He played winter ball at  this past winter. He loves to play."
Ike Davis, who sat out the start of the game against a lefthanded pitcher, allowing Rottino to play first base, said, "If you watch his right now, Vinny is swinging it ridiculously."
Now Rottino has tangible fruit of that work: the home run ball, obtained from the fan who caught it. "I had to give a bat and a ball, and I'm running out of bats. So I actually gave them a bat that I haven't used in a while and I realized that was a Florida Marlins bat," said the player who helped the Mets' chemistry Saturday.