Feb 28, 2012, 11:42 PM EDT
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.”
Sep 29, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
Rodriguez had to settle for a one-year, $3.25 million contract before the beginning of spring training and began the season in a set-up role, but he ended up with a 3.04 ERA with 73/18 K/BB ratio over 68 innings while going 44-for-49 in save chances.
Sep 29, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
After being limited to 16 starts last season, Buchholz managed to make 28 starts this year, but he saw his ERA jump from 1.74 to 5.34 in the process.
Sep 29, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT
Castillo landed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston in August and batted .333 (12-for-36) with two home runs, one double, and three stolen bases during his first taste of the majors earlier this month.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT
Roark has a 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.
Sep 29, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
The Mariners gave Hart a one-year, $6 million deal last winter in hopes that he would be able to get his career back on track after multiple knee surgeries cost him the entire 2013 season, but he batted just .203 with six home runs and a .590 OPS over 68 games this season.
Sep 29, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT
Joe Girardi says “we have to see where he’s at.”
Sep 29, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT
Plouffe is expected to be ready for spring training.
Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
Gardenhire will be paid by the Twins in 2015 as part of a two-year contract signed exactly one year ago tomorrow.
Sep 29, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
Josh Hamilton has been limited to just one game since September 4 due to right shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but he’s still hopes to be ready for the upcoming division series.
Sep 29, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Lewis has been with the Rangers since 2010.
Sep 29, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Hey, Joe. Whaddaya know!
Sep 29, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT
A good attendance season for MLB. Not the best, but still strong.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Roenicke has a 335-313 (.517) record in four seasons as the Brewers’ manager.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
The former Diamondbacks manager gets a second chance.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
Craig had a season unlike any other first baseman or corner outfielder in 70 years.
Sep 29, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT
Here’s how far Edinson Volquez has come in one year: Last season he posted a 5.71 ERA and allowed the most earned runs in the league.
Sep 29, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
Part Two of our handy guide to help you pick a team to root for in the event your team is not in the playoffs.
Sep 29, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
For a few years there, I saw it as my personal mission to the spread the gospel of Ron Gardenhire.
Sep 29, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
If your team is eliminated, what do you do? Let us help.
Sep 29, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT
“I’ve been playing this game since I was five years old.”
- REPORT: The Astros to name A.J. Hinch their new manager today 15
- Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire 33
- Pouliot’s 2014 American League awards picks 15
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs 79
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 83
- Reds beat Pirates behind Johnny Cueto, hand National League Central title to St. Louis 20
- Video: Steven Souza Jr. makes sensational catch to secure Jordan Zimmermann’s no-no 24
- David Price dominates Twins as Tigers win AL Central 30
- Hunter Pence dropped a bunch of F-bombs in his postgame speech. Good. (116)
- Derek Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium could be cancelled because of rain (85)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (84)
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs (79)
- Bud Selig says A-Rod will “have a clean slate” once his suspension is over (78)