After hitting his first Major League home run, having spent 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues, the Mets outfielder had to bargain with the fan that caught the ball to get it back. The fan received a signed bat and ball from Rottino in exchange for the most valuable commodity a 32-year-old rookie can have -- his first home run ball.
"I was running out of bats, so I actually gave him a bat that I haven't used in a while," Rottino said. "It turns out it was a Florida Marlins bat. That's what it said on it. I realized that after the fact."
Rottino's home run came on a 2-1 fastball, capping a four-run first inning that allowed Mets starter Johan Santana -- who tossed a four-hit shutout -- to pitch with the lead for the rest of the game. Rottino said he didn't feel the contact when the ball met his bat on the home run. He was numb.
"I was just happy to help the team and contribute to the win," Rottino said. "But I was floating around the bases a little bit. I had a little bit of goose bumps running around the bases. It was a cool feeling."
Rottino has played in the Brewers, Dodgers, Marlins and Mets organizations but has only amounted 31 games and 46 at-bats in the Major Leagues. He was signed by Milwaukee as an amateur free agent in 2003, and has worked to stick with a Major League club ever since, often getting called up for the final weeks of the season in September. But on Monday, Rottino was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to help the Mets in the midst of meaningful May baseball.
"I feel comfortable here," Rottino said. "I've been called up in September before and you feel part of the team, but not really, you're just kind of an extra guy. But now, especially contributing today, it's a good feeling helping the team for sure."
Rottino said he never stopped believing he'd have the opportunity to round the bases after his first home run in the Major Leagues. Mets manager Terry Collins said Rottino's work ethic is a result of how much he loves the game.
"I talk about it all the time with my teammates down in Triple-A, you just have to keep grinding and believing," Rottino said. "You just never know what can happen. I'll continue to do so."
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less