Mets calling up "The Animal" from Buffalo

Frank Catalanotto acknowledged his 15-year major league career may have ended with a pinch-hit groundout to open the bottom of the ninth inning in the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

Catalanotto, 36, was designated for assignment after the game. The Mets will promote first baseman/outfielder Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo, looking for better left-handed production off the bench. Catalanotto hit .160 (4-for-25) with one RBI in 25 games (one start).

“I don’t necessarily know that it came as a surprise,” Catalanotto said. “I wasn’t getting a chance to play much. I knew eventually it may happen, especially if I wasn’t helping the team out and producing.”

Catalanotto, who grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, had wanted to finish his career in New York.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Catalanotto said. “Chances are this is the end of my career. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to play for the Mets. I always wanted to play in New York. It’s a great organization, great group of guys. So I was happy to do that. You know, I’ll have to go home and think about it. I don’t know if there’s a team out there that wants to pick me up. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

Manager Jerry Manuel acknowledged it has been difficult for bench players to produce because their starts have been extremely limited. Catalanotto isn’t the only bench player who had no been producing.

Switch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. struck out as a pinch hitter Monday and is hitting .136 (6-for-44). Right-handed hitting Fernando Tatis is hitting .222 (8-for-36).

“For the most part, because we’re trying to get some guys going, there hasn’t been much playing time for the bench,” Manuel said. “It’s sometimes a little difficult to expect, even though you would want to see some better at-bats than what we’re getting. But that’s a tough role as we sit right now.”

Said Catalanotto: “I knew I was going to be the left-handed bat off the bench. I knew I wasn’t going to get many starts. I was very proud of myself that the last two weeks of spring training I worked really hard and made the team, because I started off really slow in spring training. No excuses. I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of opportunities here to play, and I had to make the most of what I was given.”

Carter, 27, was acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Billy Wagner at the end of last season. He plays both first base and the corner outfield, but is accomplished at neither and is considered primarily a hitter. With Triple-A Buffalo, he was hitting .336 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 113 at-bats. He has an active 11-game hitting streak with the Bisons. Manuel dubbed him “The Animal” because of his intensity and work ethic.

“He’s a competitor,” third baseman David Wright said. “He’s a workaholic. He’s a guy who is usually the first one here, last one to leave – really outworks pretty much everybody in the game. Hopefully it’s a shot in the arm for us. You know he’s going to go out there and give you everything he has every day.”

Carter merited making the Mets out of spring training, but had a minor league option remaining and was demoted, allowing Mike Jacobs and Catalanotto to make the club.

“I remember it was tough that last night in Tampa when they told him he wasn’t going to be on the team. He was crushed,” right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. “We kept telling him, ‘Keep your head up. You never know what can happen.’”