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. Matt Cain is going to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

    No ballplayer wants to fly to Birmingham, Alabama during the season for a very, very good reason.

  2. Rockies activate Justin Morneau from the disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Rockies AP

    A strained neck put Justin Morneau’s comeback season on hold, but the Rockies have activated the first baseman from the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Cubs.

  3. The Nationals and Orioles dispute over TV money is about to explode

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

    And Bud Selig’s years-long effort to manage a quiet resolution of it is apparently a failure.

  4. Red Sox have a fallback plan for Wednesday’s start in case Jon Lester is traded

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    Maybe this happens all the time and we just don’t hear about it, but Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted just now that the team has Brandon Workman lined up to start Wednesday’s game in case scheduled starter Jon Lester is traded before then.

  5. Foot injury knocks Marlon Byrd out of the Phillies’ lineup

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    Marlon Byrd Marlon Byrd

    In what could throw a wrench into the Phillies’ plans to trade Marlon Byrd before Thursday’s deadline, the 36-year-old outfielder is out of tonight’s lineup after fouling a ball off his foot yesterday.

  6. “Caucasians” t-shirts are hot sellers on Canadian Indian reservations

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Caucasians

    But . . . I was told Wahoo outrage was nothing but liberal white guilt . . .

  7. Pirates looking into “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    Pedro Alvarez AP AP

    Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s throwing issues have gotten so bad–including an MLB-leading 21 of his 23 errors on throws–that Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the team is starting to look into “the mental component to find the root of the problem.”

  8. HBT Daily: the Sox are shopping Lester . . . and Lackey too?

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    The Sox are in last place and are going nowhere. Time to deal starters?

  9. Watch Clayton Kershaw play William Tell with Jimmy Kimmel

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    He’s a braver man than I am. By that I mean Kershaw for going on Kimmel’s show.

  10. Gerrit Cole throws five shutout innings in rehab start

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT

    Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole

    On the disabled list with a strained lat muscle, Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout innings Monday in a minor-league rehab start at Triple-A.

  11. Once healthy, Brandon Morrow will likely rejoin the Blue Jays as a reliever

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Brandon Morrow Brandon Morrow

    Brandon Morrow was one of the league’s best starters in 2012, but he’s been an injured mess since then, including a current disabled list stint for a torn tendon in his right index finger.

  12. Great Moments in Steroids Derp

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT

    140724-frank-thomas-1000 Getty Images

    Call me crazy, but I think Maddux, Glavine and Thomas woulda made the Hall of Fame even if Congress didn’t hold steroids hearings.

  13. Most people in L.A. still can’t see Dodgers games. There’s some progress though. Kinda.

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    dodgers logo

    As in: one side of two warring factions has agreed to a resolution. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango.

  14. “Disinterested” Felix Doubront sure seems like he’s trying to get the Red Sox to trade him

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    World Series - Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals - Game Four Getty Images

    Two days ago Felix Doubront talked at length about how he wants to be back in Boston’s rotation following a demotion to the bullpen and, if the Red Sox aren’t willing to use him as a starter again, he wants to be traded.

  15. Discarded by the Twins, Vance Worley has turned his career around with the Pirates

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    Vance Worley AP

    Last night Worley tossed a complete-game shutout against the Giants, improving to 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 50 innings for the Pirates.

  16. Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

    Click Here large

    Dirk Hayhurst takes a graphic look at depravity and likely illegality in the low minor leagues.

  17. Neil Walker turned a fantastic double play last night

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Neil Walker

    Ask yourself: how does a dude in this position — leaning in the opposite direction of first base — turn and get anything on his throw?

Featured video

Red Sox shopping Lester and Lackey
Top 10 MLB Player Searches