Skip to content

Can Jesus Montero catch? He’s motivated to show he can

Feb 28, 2012, 11:42 PM EDT

montero-jesus-120228

PEORIA, Ariz. – There are some who say Jesus Montero will never be a quality major league catcher.

Analysts who rush to praise his quick, powerful bat are equally quick to pan his defensive skills. His receiving is poor, his footwork worse, they say. He’s too big (6-3, 235), and not athletic enough to play the position. His arm, while strong, takes too long to release the ball. It goes on and on, and there are numbers to back it up, as he has thrown out only 21 percent of base-stealers over the course of five minor leagues seasons.

Montero, the 22-year-old Venezuelan who the Seattle Mariners acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Michael Pineda, has heard the criticisms. He understands it, but he’s not buying into it. Montero says he’s been catching since he was 4 years old, and he’s certainly not ready to change positions. He loves the challenges that come from the position, the ability to control the game from behind the dish, to help his pitcher through the rough spots. He’s eager to prove his critics wrong, to show that he can be that rare breed of catcher that is equally proficient behind the plate as he is in the batter’s box.

“Most catchers don’t hit but they control the game, they know how to catch,” Montero said on Tuesday in the Mariners clubhouse. “Sometimes you have to give something away so you can catch or you can hit. But if you can do all that together you can be amazing like (Jorge) Posada, you know?”

(Listen to Montero talk about his desire to prove his doubters wrong) 

Montero draws inspiration from Posada, his former Yankees teammate who retired this offseason after 17 years in New York. Posada was never known as a great defensive catcher, but he was good enough to log 1,574 games there for the Yankees, more than 86 percent of his starts.

“If I see a big example in front of my face, it was Posada,” he said. “I want to be like him. We were together a lot. He taught me a lot.”

Montero projects to be an even better hitter than Posada, but what about the defense? Can he become good enough at the position to make the Mariners comfortable keeping him there? It’s certainly worth a try, as big-hitting catchers are hard to find. The Mariners acknowledge that Montero has some work to do to become proficient defensively, but they’re working hard to do just that.

“He’s a talented young man and we’re very happy to have him,” said third base coach Jeff Datz, who is also charged with working with Mariners catchers. “There is work to be done with him, as with all our other catchers. We like his size, we like the body, and there’s arm strength there, obviously a lot of ability to work with. Yes, he needs some cleaning up in certain areas, and we’re going through that process right now with him and with our other catchers.”

Montero is expected to be primarily a DH this season, spelling starting catcher Miguel Olivo behind the plate for 20-40 games. Olivo, for his part, preaches patience, pointing out that he also reached the big leagues in his early 20s and admitting that it took him “2 ½-3 years to really realize what I need to do behind the plate.”

 (Listen to Miguel Olivo talk about what Montero must do to improve)

 

“He’s young and he can hit already. That’s not a problem,” Olivo said. “He needs to get better at receiving and blocking, and communicate more with the pitchers. It takes time, though. I had the same problems. … That’s the thing he needs to go through now. Maybe a couple years, one year and he’ll be ready to do it.”

Montero said he’s ready for the challenge. He speaks calmly and confidently. He doesn’t seem upset by his critics, but admits that they motivate him.

“I just want to get more opportunities to catch and show everybody that I can catch,” he said. “I did it in Triple-A. I hope I can do it here, too, to help my pitchers like I did in the minors. I’m gonna work hard day-by-day to help my team. That’s it.”

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

Latest Posts
  1. Michael Cuddyer drove in a career-high seven runs last night

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    Michael Cuddyer Getty Getty Images

    Michael Cuddyer has had a really tough time staying healthy this season, but the impending free agent is making up for lost time right now.

  2. VIDEO: Fan catches Lucas Duda home run ball in his bucket of popcorn

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

    fan popcorn

    A fan sacrificed his popcorn to catch a home run ball last night at Turner Field.

  3. Settling the Score: Friday’s results

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

    52a2981688df59976e21e02bd42d5156 AP

    A quick recap of a busy Friday around MLB, including the A’s getting back in the win column.

  4. Phillies minor leaguer suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    phillies logo Getty Images

    A Phillies pitching prospect violated the minor league drug policy and was suspended 50 games, beginning at the start of the 2015 season.

  5. Video: Russell Martin hits go-ahead three-run homer to send Pirates to a win

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Russell Martin Russell Martin

    Russell Martin hit a timely three-run home run to send the Pirates to a late win over the Brewers on Friday night, extending their lead for the second NL Wild Card slot.

  6. David Ortiz broke a Ted Williams record with his 100th RBI

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT

    Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    David Ortiz found yet another reason to hear his name uttered in the same breath as Ted Williams.

  7. Jacoby Ellsbury exits Friday’s game with a strained right hamstring

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Dioner Navarro Jacoby Ellsbury, Dioner Navarro

    Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a strained right hamstring in the fourth inning on Friday night against the Blue Jays. He’ll undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.

  8. Mike Scioscia is considering using a three-man rotation in the ALDS

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    mike-scioscia-angels Getty Images

    The Angels’ rotation is thin beyond Matt Shoemaker, Jered Weaver, and C.J. Wilson, so manager Mike Scioscia may do the obvious thing and utilize a three-man rotation in the ALDS.

  9. Juan Lagares may not return to finish out the regular season

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    There isn’t much time left in the regular season, which may mean Mets fans won’t see Juan Lagares patrol the outfield until spring training in 2015.

  10. Twins shut down closer Glen Perkins with nerve irritation

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

    Perkins, who had a 2.44 ERA as recently as August 25, finishes the season with a 3.65 ERA and 66/11 K/BB ratio in 62 innings while saving 34 games.

  11. Shawn Kelley took offense to Jose Bautista’s antics after hitting game-tying homer last night

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    Jose Bautista Jose Bautista

    Jose Bautista offended Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley with his celebratory behavior after hitting a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning of last night’s game.

  12. Hyun-Jin Ryu hopes to resume throwing over the weekend

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Hyun-Jin Ryu Hyun-Jin Ryu

    Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t throw as expected on Friday, but hopes to do so before the weekend is over. He’s hoping to return to the Dodgers in time for the playoffs.

  13. Clayton Kershaw wins his 20th game of the season

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw AP

    Los Angeles is 22-4 with Kershaw on the mound this season.

  14. Alex Avila has felt “disoriented” when swinging a bat lately

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    alex avila getty Getty Images

    Alex Avila felt disoriented while swinging a bat over the last two days, so he remains out of the Tigers’ lineup and it’s even worth questioning if he’ll be ready for the post-season — assuming the Tigers get there.

  15. Nationals expected to activate Ryan Zimmerman this weekend

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Ryan Zimmerman AP AP

    Ryan Zimmerman has been out since mid-July with a hamstring injury.

  16. If you love chaos, root for Team Entropy

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:31 PM EDT

    Chaos Theory

    Basically, we want everyone in the NL to finish with 88 wins.

  17. Paul Konerko returns to play through a broken hand

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Paul Konerko Getty Images

    Konerko has hit just .220 with five homers and a .616 OPS in 74 games.

  18. Derek Jeter will be presented with a bronze cap tonight

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Bronze cap

    What do you get the man who has everything? A bronzed version of the stuff he already has!

  19. Carlos Ruiz reveals he’s played the entire season with a shoulder injury

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Carlos Ruiz AP AP

    He has two years remaining on a three-year, $26 million contract.

Featured video

Patience finally paying off for Royals fans
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3141)
  2. G. Stanton (2294)
  3. C. Kershaw (2199)
  4. N. Arenado (2170)
  5. D. Ortiz (2168)
  1. J. Hamilton (2150)
  2. A. Rizzo (2135)
  3. M. Trout (2036)
  4. A. Pujols (1841)
  5. H. Ryu (1762)