Sunday, February 21, 2010
#689) BARTOLOME FORTUNATO
Bartolome Fortunato was traded along with Victor Zambrano from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the New York Mets in exchange for prized prospect Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz on July 30, 2004. He was first assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, but soon recalled to New York on August 19th. Bartolome made his Mets debut on August 20, 2004. He would throw two innings of scoreless relief against the Giants in San Francisco. The next day he would pitch a scoreless 12th inning to record his first major league save. Bartolome credited his lively arm to an interesting liniment. "Snake oil." He would tell a reporter. "In the Dominican they actually use snake oil on their arm," said Mets' bullpen catcher Nelson Silverio. "They think it makes them loose like a snake. It's not just him. A lot of players down there use that." Fortunato finished the season with the Mets, and appeared in a total of 15 games with a 3.86 ERA.
The right-hander would dash the club's hopes for him pitching in the 2005 campaign when he developed a back strain during spring training camp. Fortunato was officially placed on the disabled list on April 4, 2005, and eventually had season-ending surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back on June 2nd. The Mets resigned Bartolome to a one-year contract on March 3, 2006 in hopes that he might return from the injury to his previous form. He was invited to major league spring training camp initially, but started the season back with Triple-A Norfolk.
Bartolome performed well with the Tides. Posting a 1-0 record, with 21 strikeouts, and a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings of work. An injury to pitcher, John Maine created an open roster spot and New York did not hesitate to recall Fortunato on May 6, 2006 to provide needed bullpen depth. His return to the Mets ended two days later. In only his second appearance of the season, Bartolome was hit hard by the Braves at Shea Stadium. He allowed eight runs on six hits in just an inning and a third of relief work during a 3-13 loss to Atlanta. The next day he was returned to Norfolk and replaced on the New York roster by Heath Bell. Unfortunately the worst had happened. It was determined on May 13th that Tommy John surgery would be required on his right elbow. After the surgery was completed, the Mets released Fortunato on May 20, 2006.
Bartolome Fortunato signed a game program for my good friend Patrick, when the Norfolk Tides visited the Indianapolis Indians on August 17, 2004. I converted the cut signature into his card in the set.