By Shannon Drayer
With Michael Saunders on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in the AC joint of his right shoulder, the Mariners have called up Jesus Montero.
Montero’s saga has been well chronicled, from the performance-enhancing drug suspension to his tremendous offseason weight gain to the public expressions of disappointment by general manager Jack Zduriencik.
While there was a great amount of disappointment in how Montero reported to spring training, I always believed that the Mariners would know when the right time to bring him back was. If they had a need and they felt he was ready, then he would be up. It has never been about punishing him by keeping him in Triple-A. This was a top prospect that they traded another top prospect for and the goal and hope has always been that somehow that talent would be seen at the big-league level.
Is all forgiven? That’s not important. The Mariners have a need and Montero will have an opportunity.
Montero played nearly every day with Tacoma, splitting time between designated hitter and first base. He put up a line of .270/.345/.455/.800 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. This, of course, is against minor-league pitching in small parks for the most part, so we shall see how this translates.
One thing is for certain: at the big-league level Montero has put up an impressive .320/.373/.828 line in a relatively limited sample size against left-handed pitching. Those numbers were mostly bolstered by his 2011 and 2012 performances. In 2013 he hit just .167/.265/.531 against lefties, but that was in only 30 at-bats.
Can he or has he regained his pre-2013 form? Well, if he has or if he can come close to those numbers, the Mariners could have some valuable help from Montero in a platoon-DH position. We shall see.