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Montero earns passing grade for defensive work

The SportsXchange

With top catching prospect Mike Zunino tearing it up at Triple-A, and with the Seattle Mariners already set with a full-time designated hitter in veteran newcomer Kendrys Morales, the microscope has really focused in on catcher Jesus Montero.

The 23-year-old former Yankees farmhand is getting his chance to prove that he can be an everyday catcher, and the early returns are positive.

"You have to give it more time," manager Eric Wedge said of the small sample size, "but he's handled himself well."

Montero has successfully dealt with the pitching staff thus far while proving to be capable as a defensive backstop. He had neither a passed ball nor an error in his first six starts at catcher this season but did give up stolen bases on all four chances by opponents.

"It's going pretty good," he said of the start of his audition. "Being in charge of the team, being in charge of the Seattle Mariners, is not easy. But you've just got to play hard and try to help the pitchers win."

Knowing he was probably going to be the Mariners' primary catcher this season -- he started 55 games there in 2012 while serving as designated hitter in 77 others -- Montero took it upon himself to get to know the entire pitching staff this spring. He had several one-on-one conversations with each pitcher in an effort to develop a feel for their strengths and weaknesses.

"I just wanted to make them feel comfortable -- more comfortable," he said.

Montero was on the right end of two shutouts in his first six games this season, so he has to be doing something right.

"This is a chance to show who I am," said Montero, who hasn't had the same success at the plate this season, posting a .133 batting average through the first nine games. "Everybody knows I can hit, but it's not easy sometimes. I just want to show that I can catch. I'm going to do my best. Everybody knows, and I know, that it's going to be hard, but I'm just going to try and do my best."
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