Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Vinny Rottino News and Speculation

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Folks, I’m editing up a storm and working on a few book reviews right now, but as it’s been a while since my last Vinny Rottino update, I thought it was time for another one.

So here’s the one, little factoid I found out about my favorite baseball player, Racine native Vinny Rottino:

He is apparently again a free agent, this courtesy of his Wikipedia page.

I don’t often use Wikipedia as a source, mind you, but I’d gathered by the few articles I’d seen about Korean baseball in the past few months that Rottino wasn’t seeing much action in the latter stages of their season. Further, I know that Rottino’s age (he’ll be 35 next April) is now against him…professional baseball players often have relatively short “shelf-lives.”

That said, every organization Rottino has played for (mostly in the minor leagues) — the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Miami Marlins (then the Florida Marlins), the New York Mets, and the Cleveland Indians — talked about the potential Rottino had as either a manager or baseball coach. This is because Rottino has always maximized his ability, and because he’s always been known as a smart, savvy baseball player who did whatever he could to help his team win.

I feel terrible, though, writing all of that down. Because I always felt Rottino had major league-level talent. He didn’t get the right breaks in his career to bring him up to the big leagues for more than a few “cups of coffee” now and again, and eventually was saddled with the reputation of a guy who could hit in AAA ball, but wasn’t able to convert in the majors.

Which wasn’t fair to Rottino, because he never got the opportunity to play every day.

And that bad luck followed him to Japan, and then also to Korea.

Mind, Rottino made a little bit of history earlier in 2014 as he was part of the first “all-American” battery (a pitcher-catcher combo from the U.S.) in Korean baseball. And that is no bad thing.

In addition, there’s nothing saying Rottino won’t catch on as a player somewhere else in 2015. He is a good, solid player who can play nearly every position on the field except pitcher. And he’s smart, driven, a high-quality individual…someone who deserves to succeed, because he’s tried so very hard and he really does have talent.

But time is no longer on Rottino’s side. And the longer you are a professional athlete, the more difficult it is to keep going — your body just won’t let you. (Satchel Paige and Julio Franco excluded.)

I hope for Rottino’s sake that he will have options to play. I don’t think he wants to stop playing. And he still has value as a player to the right team and the right setup — someplace he will have an opportunity to play often at a variety of positions would be ideal.

But if this is the end of the line for Rottino as a baseball player — and again, I don’t know that it is (I only suspect it) — I hope all of those teams he played for earlier in his career weren’t just blowing smoke and that there will be opportunities for him to continue in baseball, this time as either a manager or a coach.

Rottino has all the tools needed to succeed no matter what he does next, mind. He has heart. Drive. Dedication. Knowledge, both of baseball and of life. Faith, not just in the Man Upstairs, but in himself and his abilities. And he is demonstrably persistent.

Yes, one thing is clear, no matter what happens next:

Vinny Rottino is a winner.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

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