It’s been a season of ups and downs for Columbus Clippers outfielder Vinny Rottino. He played 36 games for the Buffalo Bisons to begin the season, in which he hit .307 with four home runs and 25 RBI.
Once he was called up to the New York Mets, he was slightly less fortunate. In 18 games, he hit .182 with five RBI and was designated for assignment on June 25.
The Cleveland Indians claimed Rottino just two days later, and since then he’s played seven games with the Clippers and has made an immediate impact. He has an average of .375 in his short time with Columbus.
Rottino is glad to be performing well with his new organization, but he says that baseball players have to be careful not to try too hard when entering an unfamiliar situation.
“What you don’t want to do – and you learn not to do it because everyone does it – is you come to a new organization and you try and do something you can’t do,” Rottino said. “You try to impress in ways that you can’t. You’ve got to stay within yourself.”
Rottino’s best game so far with the Clippers came Friday at Huntington Park against the Indianapolis Indians. He went 3-for-5 with a single, a double, a triple and two RBI in a 10-6 Columbus victory.
Rottino was born in Racine, WI and played for three years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Milwaukee Brewers. Rottino holds many records at UW-La Crosse, including most runs in a season, most hits in a season and most home runs in a season.
After joining the Brewers back in 2003, he worked his way up the farm system and wound up playing several games with the major league squad in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Since 2009, Rottino has played ball for the Dodgers, Marlins and Mets minor league affiliates. Rottino says that such transitions are just a part of baseball, and his only goal is to produce wherever he winds up.
“There is no adjustment (when you change locations),” Rottino said. “You just play your game.”
However, it’s a slightly different story when such a transition occurs in the middle of a season. Rottino’s move from the Mets system to the Indians is just the second time he’s moved mid-season, but he doesn’t believe it’s very different from other transitions.
“I was in Double-A (back in 2009) and not having a very good season and I was traded to the Dodgers and their Double-A team,” Rottino said. “It’s not a big deal because you’re moving throughout the season from the big leagues down to Triple-A and sometimes elsewhere. You get used to the nature of the game.”
Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh has been impressed with Rottino in the seven games he’s played for his new club.
“He comes to play every day,” Sarbaugh said. “He’s a gamer. He’s done a nice job wherever he has gone and he swings the bat real well.”
As happy as Rottino is to be playing well with Columbus, he – like every other minor league player – is setting his sights higher.
“You play this game to play in the big leagues,” he said. “I’d like to help in the big leagues wherever and whenever they want me to.”
After the 2009 trade to the Dodgers organization, Rottino wouldn’t play another game in the majors until he suited up for the Mets in 2011. When he has been called up, he’s had moments of success. He hit a key walk-off single for the Milwaukee Brewers in September 2007, and while his time with the Mets didn’t pan out like he wanted he was able to hit two home runs before being designated for assignment.
As frustrating as the last few years have occasionally been for Rottino, he feels like he’s ready to make another run at the big show. If he continues to produce at such a high rate for the Clippers, he very well may get his chance.