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Notes: Fortunato sold on snake oil
08/21/2004 4:43 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bartolome Fortunato just smiles as he opens the bottle that contains the strange-looking liquid. He pours a little in his left hand and proceeds to rub it all over his right shoulder and elbow.

"Snake oil," he says with a grin.

And he's not kidding. Snake oil can mean just about anything, but Fortunato is literally rubbing snake oil on his arm to keep it loose.

   Bartolome Fortunato  /   P
Born: 08/24/74
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"In the Dominican they actually use snake oil on their arm," said Mets bullpen catcher Nelson Silverio, who is also the general manager of Fortunato's winter ball team in the Dominican Republic. "They think it makes them loose, like a snake. You see how a snake moves, so relaxed. It's not just him. A lot of players down there use that."

If Fortunato can continue to pitch the way he did through his first two appearances as a Met, management probably won't care what he's rubbing on his arm. Fortunato pitched a scoreless 12th inning Saturday afternoon at SBC Park to record his first Major League save. It came on the heels of his Mets debut Friday night when he threw two scoreless innings against the Giants. He touched 96 on the gun both days and displayed an effective palm ball-type offspeed pitch.

"I felt comfortable out there," said Fortunato, a converted infielder who will turn 30 next week. "I wasn't nervous. When I throw strikes, I'm not afraid of anybody. When my ball drops down like that, it's not easy to hit."

Manager Art Howe is hopeful that such is the case. With his players falling to injury at an alarming rate, having someone who can go out every day and be productive would certainly be a plus at this point. Silverio said that Fortunato is the type of pitcher that thrives on extra work.

"He can definitely go two or three days in a row," Silverio said. "The kid wants the ball every day. He's hungry. But that's the way he pitches. He was one of the guys that helped me get to the finals last year [during the Winter League season]. He struggled his first year but last year he was unbelievable for us."

   Aaron Heilman  /   P
Born: 11/12/78
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Rotating rotation: Howe confirmed that Matt Ginter would start Sunday against the Giants and Aaron Heilman would go Monday against the Padres at Shea Stadium. Kris Benson gets the nod Tuesday with Al Leiter going Wednesday. Steve Trachsel gets the matinee Thursday against San Diego.

Though Jae Seo was considered for Monday's start, Howe said that Heilman has been impressive of late at Triple-A Norfolk and deserves the opportunity.

"I'm anxious to see how he's developed," Howe said. "He's still one of our hopefuls. I think he's using his changeup more effectively and he's getting more tilt on his slider. He needs to do that to be successful at the Major League level.

"He's got a big league fastball and it has movement. He has to have command of his pitches, though. He just didn't have command of his pitches. And I've always liked his mental makeup."

Minor musings: The shuffling of the Major League roster necessitated the shuffling of the minor league rosters as well. Because Heilman will start Monday for New York, another starter was needed at Triple-A Norfolk. So Neal Musser, who was sent back to Double-A Binghamton earlier this week to help the B-Mets in their playoff push, was sent back to the Tides. He started Friday night and gave up 10 runs in three innings. Infielder David Detienne was also sent from Binghamton to Norfolk to replace Jeff Keppinger, called up to the Majors to replace the injured Joe McEwing.

This and that: Todd Zeile had a hit Saturday, leaving him 14 shy of 2,000 for his career. Once he reaches that plateau, he will become the 85th player to record 2,000 hits, 250 homers and 1,000 RBIs. ... Though David Wright took some grounders at shortstop, Howe said he would probably use Danny Garcia there first because Garcia played some shortstop at Norfolk. ... The Mets and Giants combined to hit into 10 double plays Saturday, breaking the Major League mark of nine set by the Mets and Dodgers on May 24, 1973, in a 19-inning game. ... The six double plays hit into by New York was a franchise record while the six turned by the Giants was a San Francisco club record. ... Wilson Delgado tied a career high with three hits Saturday. ... Keppinger picked up his first Major League hit in the eighth, a single to left. ... Cliff Floyd's three-run homer in the fifth landed in McCovey Cove, the third time this season a visiting player has put a ball in the water. It was the eighth time overall a visiting player has sent a ball into the drink. ... Mike Stanton pitched a scoreless 11th inning to earn his second win of the season.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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