Zduriencik: Mariners happy with Montero’s defense
By Brady Henderson
More than a quarter of the way through the season, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik says he has been satisfied with the job Jesus Montero has done behind the plate.
“I think we all have,” Zduriencik told “Brock and Salk” on Wednesday. “Absolutely. No doubt.”
Jesus Montero came to the Mariners with questions about his viability as a long-term catcher. (AP)
Zduriencik’s conversation with Brock Huard and Mike Salk covered several subjects before ending on Montero’s defense, which was hot topic after the Mariners acquired the 22-year-old catcher in an offseason trade with the Yankees. Some analysts, like Keith Law from ESPN’s Scouts Inc., insisted that Montero’s defensive limitations would ultimately necessitate a move to another position.
“He can’t catch. Nobody in Major League Baseball thinks this kid can catch. I don’t know why the Mariners are pretending that he’s going to be able to catch,” Law told “Brock and Salk” in February.
Miguel Olivo’s groin injury has forced Montero to serve as the team’s primary catcher. After Wednesday’s game — Montero’s 20th behind the plate — he had four passed balls, tied with six others for second most in the American League.
Some analysts, like Law and ESPN’s Buster Olney, were more concerned that Montero’s 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame and limited athleticism would make it difficult to throw runners out. So far, those concerns seem to be valid. Montero has thrown out only two would-be basestealers in 15 attempts, giving him a .133 average that ranks second-to-last among American League catchers.
Zduriencik offered a reminder that Montero is only 22 years old, which is young for a player who’s being asked to be catch and hit in the middle of the order. Montero is hitting .257 with 22 RBIs and a team-high six home runs.
“There’s things he’s got to work on,” Zduriencik said. “I mean, he’s got to get himself in better condition going forward. There’s some things we want to do with him this winter flexibility-wise and just [to help him be able to] adjust to that position because of the wear and tear of it. But I think he’s handled the staff well, he’s blocked very well, he’s got a nice throwing arm, and offensively — at that position — he’s very special.”
Zduriencik got a chuckle when the conversation turned to Montero’s speed. His utter lack of speed, that is.
“There was no one that said we were bringing in a basestealer,” Zduriencik joked. “My wife says he prances.”
Related: Revisiting doubts about Jesus Montero’s defense