Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Interview With Frank Catalanotto

Thirteen year Major League Baseball veteran and former New York Met Frank Catalanotto was kind enough to answer a few questions from the Mets Fever team.

Mets Fever (Seth Shapiro): As a fellow Long Islander, I have noticed that many children on LI nowadays prefer to play lacrosse over baseball. As someone who is involved in the little league community, why do you think this is the case?

Frank Catalanotto: That's a great question. I'm not sure why so many kids on LI are playing lacrosse over baseball right now. The little leagues on LI are run very well but the kids just seem to enjoy playing lacrosse more.

Mets Fever (Rob Patterson): Having played at the major league level for the better part of thirteen seasons, you've undoubtedly seen just about everything professional baseball has to offer. From your standpoint, what is the biggest difference between the players who entered the big leagues back when you were a rookie, versus those who are breaking in now? Do you think such a change is good for the game?

Frank Catalanotto: When I broke in rookies kept their mouths shut and didn't step out of line. You would respect the veterans and the coaches. Nowadays a lot of these young guys come up to the league with a sense of entitlement. Most of them were drafted high and signed for a lot of money. When kids that are already millionaires come up to the league it seems that some of them have a careless attitude. Toward the end of my career I noticed that there was not as much respect shown from the rookies. I'm not totally sure how to change it but controlling how much money a drafted player could sign for might be a start.

Mets Fever (Kieran Flemming): You had a long career as a Major Leaguer. What separates the players who find a way to stay with the big league clubs from the career minor leaguers?

Frank Catalanotto: I've played with so many players in the minor leagues that had so much talent but when they got to the big leagues they couldn't hack it. The difference between the guys that stick around and those that don't really has nothing to do with talent. To stay at the big league level you have to be strong mentally. These players that don't stick around are not mentally strong enough. Baseball is a game of failure and if you can't accept the failure you wont last.

Mets Fever (Josh Chapdelaine): Late in your career, and especially with the Mets, you were used primarily as a pinch hitter. What was the adjustment like and how do you stay in an in-game mentality while watching for the first several innings?

Frank Catalanotto: Pinch hitting is such a tough thing to do. The key to being a successful pinch hitter is always being prepared. I would play manager in my head and try to figure out, innings ahead of time, when I might be used. I never liked to get caught off guard. I would always be looking in the bullpen to see who was warming up so I could run into the video room and watch some footage of the guy I may be facing. I would check the scouting report on the pitcher. The more information I had the better prepared I was for the at bat. Staying loose throughout the game is so important as well. I would be swinging a bat, running sprints and stretching as it got later in the game. Being ready is so important.

Mets Fever (Rob Patterson): In your travels as a major league ball player, have you ever seen a player who has as much influence on the play of his teammates as Jose Reyes does? If so, whom?

Frank Catalanotto: I've never seen a player like Jose Reyes that has such an influence on how his teammates play. He is such an energetic and electric player. HIs energy rubs off on the other guys and he helps raise the level of your game. There's just something about him. Guys like him, he exudes confidence and he always plays the game hard.

Frank Catalanotto is an honorary chairman for the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and participates in Little League Baseball programs throughout Long Island. Mr. Catalanotto is a great ambassador to the game of baseball and a great role model for children across America. Please check out his website at fcatalanotto.com and follow him on twitter @fcat27.