Aug 25, 2015

One Time Italian / American Mets Pitcher: Ricky Bottalico (2004)

Ricky Paul Bottalico was born on August 26, 1969 in New Britain, Connecticut. He played high school ball at Hartford, and was discovered playing in a semi pro league there. The six foot right hander was signed the Philadelphia Phillies in 1991.

He began his minor league career as a starter, but with a fastball in the upper nineties & a hard curve, he was converted to a reliever. After one season, he became a closer and moved quickly through the organization. He saved over twenty games in both 1993 & 1994 getting to the Phillies big league club for good by 1995.

In 1996 he became the teams closer, replacing Heathcliff Slocumb. Bottalico was the Phillies sole representative at the 1996 All Star Game played right at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. That season he had his best year, posting 34 saves for the first of two straight seasons, finishing up eighth in the NL both times. He went 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA, striking out 74 batters in 67 innings.

After five seasons with the Phillies, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Garrett Stephenson for Jeff Brantley, Ron Gant and Cliff Politte. In 1999 he saved 20 games in St. Louis, going 3-7 with a 4.91 ERA and was let go to free agency.

He signed with the Kansas City Royals and had his last quality year as a closer there, saving 16 games. He went back to the Philadelphia Phillies (2001-2002) then to the Arizona D-backs (2003) before signing with the New York Mets for 2004.

He began the year at AAA Norfolk where he pitched only five innings before getting called up to the Mets in early May. Bottalico made his Mets debut, pitching in relief of Jae Weong Seo at Shea Stadium, on May 5th in an 8-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. On May 18th he pitched two scoreless innings of relief earning a win against the St. Louis Cards.

On June 1st he earned a win against his old Phillie team mates, when the Mets scored three runs in the top of the 9th inning for a 4-1 win. After taking a loss in an extra inning, game he won his third Mets game during an inter league match up against the Cleveland Indians. By the end of June his ERA was still under two & he was a fine addition to the Mets bullpen.

But then he blew leads in back to back games of the subway series matchups, relieving Mike Stanton who got into trouble as well, although the Mets came back to win both games. The first on a Shane Spencer fielder's choice in the bottom of the 9th off Tanyon Sturtze & then next on a 4th of July, 8th inning HR by Ty Wigginton off Tom Gordon.

Bottalico would appear in 60 games for the Mets, going 3-2 with 12 holds credited to him, 61 strike outs & 34 walks in 69 innings pitched with a 3.38 ERA. He was granted free agency in November & signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 2005. There he went 2-2 getting two more saves, making 40 appearances.

In his 12 year career he was 33-42 with 116 saves, 575 strike outs & 316 walks in 628 innings, posting a 3.99 ERA in 562 appearances.

Retirement: Since his playing days he has become a Phillies analyst for Com Cast Sports in Philadelphia.

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