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Smithtown's Catalanotto explores options

New York Mets' Frank Catalanotto reacts after flying

New York Mets' Frank Catalanotto reacts after flying out to left field off a pitch by Boston Red Sox's John Lackey in the second inning. (March 17, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Frank Catalanotto says he is not "officially" retired just yet. For that, the Smithtown product needs to fill out some paperwork with Major League Baseball, and Catalanotto has not gotten around to it.

But as far as playing again, that part of his career is over, and Catalanotto sounded at peace with the decision Saturday as he discussed the next phase of his baseball life. One of those new challenges is coaching for Team Italy, and he was in uniform for Saturday's exhibition against the Mets' top prospects.

Catalanotto, 36, played first base for Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he looks ready to step between the lines again. Even so, he's content to help the country's still-developing pro- gram and is working alongside another former Met, Mike Piazza.

"These players are like sponges," Catalanotto said. "They're eager to learn more about the game."

Unlike those in the United States, many kids in Italy don't necessarily grow up with baseball, and Catalanotto - with an emphasis on the mental side of the game - believes he can help foster those instincts later in their career. That focus on preparation is what helped Catalanotto play 14 seasons in the majors with five teams. Last year, he made the Opening Day roster for the Mets, but he had only 26 plate appearances before he was designated for assignment.

Catalanotto is unsure if he wants a shot at coaching in the majors because of the time commitment. But he's been in demand for a number of broadcast jobs, and he could surface in New York for the upcoming season.

While he doesn't have much experience, Catalanotto had a unique stint behind the microphone in 2004 as a player with the Blue Jays. Catalanotto was on the disabled list but was with the Jays on a road trip in Oakland when a member of the broadcast team got sick.

Catalanotto was asked to fill in for three innings, and the team granted the radio station's unusual request.

"It was harder than I thought," he said.

But still easier than playing major league baseball, and Catalanotto can walk away knowing he did it pretty well for a long period of time.

New York Sports