Reporter: Mariners keeping open mind on Montero

Feb 14, 2012, 10:34 AM | Updated: 10:56 am

By Brady Henderson

Jesus Montero’s arrival at spring training has reignited discussions on the new Mariner’s long-term prospects as a catcher.

But unlike most analysts who have said that a move to first base or designated hitter is all but guaranteed, Larry Stone of The Seattle Times offered reason to believe that Montero has at least some hopes of remaining behind the plate.

“From the people I’ve talked to in the organization, they’re being very open-minded about this,” Stone told “The Kevin Calabro Show” on Monday. “They’ve looked at video and they think that he can be a serviceable catcher. At least that’s what they’re saying publicly.”

4e21e186-39ce-403a-b86e-10cfbffc1441
Mariners catcher Jesus Montero faces questions about his defense. (AP)

Keith Law, a former MLB executive who’s now an analyst for ESPN, isn’t buying it. He told “The Kevin Calabro Show” last month that while Montero has tremendous potential as a hitter, he can’t be an adequate catcher. Law was just as adamant when he joined “Brock and Salk” last week.

“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 said.

“I understand the value of having him behind the plate, theoretically, would be enormous, but you’re risking injury. Much greater risk of injury at catcher than at first base/DH, you’re taking him out of the lineup for 20-25 games a year because he can’t catch 160 times a year, and he can’t actually catch; his receiving is poor, his footwork is poor, he has arm strength but it takes him a year and a half to get rid of the ball. He can’t catch.”

As Law mentioned, most of the misgivings of Montero as a catcher are rooted in the perception that he’s not athletic enough to overcome the limitations presented by his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame, making it difficult to throw runners out.

“Catchers, when they go to throw the ball they’ll bounce up off the ground, come to two feet, reset their feet to throw to second base,” ESPN’s Buster Olney told “Bob and Groz” last month. “What the Yankees actually put in place for Montero was to anchor his right foot in one place, and basically he didn’t reset his feet when he threw to second base.

“Now, the good thing is he’s got a really strong arm. The bad thing is — and the reason why they did that, of course — is because he doesn’t have very quick feet. He had 14 passed balls in 2010.”

Stone estimates the Mariners will give Montero 20-40 games behind the plate this season and thinks they won’t necessarily come to any conclusions in spring training on his viability as a catcher.

“I think more likely they’re going to see a guy who they think needs to hone some skills,” he said. “[Manager] Eric Wedge is a former catcher. They have some other guys in the organization who could teach catching. My hunch is it’s going to be an ongoing project through the year, and then maybe by the end of the year they’ll assess whether or not he can catch.”

Stone thinks incumbent starter Miguel Olivo could become trade bait if Montero proves to be adequate behind the plate and John Jaso can have a reasonable facsimile of his strong rookie season in 2010.

Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson

You might also like …
Keith Law expects Mariners’ Justin Smoak to improve
Audio: Checking in with Mariners outfielder Mike Carp

Date Starting Pitcher
Tuesday, September 27 @ 6:40 pm

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Sunny
High 78° | Low 56°
Roof is open
Rangers at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Wyman & Bob

Brady Henderson

Rees Odhiambo, a 2016 third-round pick, will compete with Matt Tobin to start at left tackle. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Tom Cable: Rees Odhiambo, Matt Tobin are Seahawks’ preferred LT options

Tom Cable brought a bit of clarity to the Seahawks' plans at left tackle in the wake of George Fant's season-ending knee injury, saying Tuesday that Rees Odhiambo and newcomer Matt Tobin are the top two options.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks injury updates: George Fant set for surgery, K.J. Wright returns

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that left tackle George Fant is expected to be back by next season from the knee injury that will sideline him in 2017.
5 years ago
Matt Tobin, 27, started 21 games over seasons with the Eagles. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks acquire OL Matt Tobin in trade with Eagles

The Seahawks have acquired offensive tackle Matt Tobin in a trade with the Eagles, making another move to shore up their offensive line after losing left tackle George Fant for the season.
5 years ago
Luke Joeckel played left tackle for his first three NFL seasons. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Luke Joeckel? Rees Odhiambo? A look at the Seahawks’ LT options with George Fant out for the season

The Seahawks need a new plan at left tackle with George Fant out for the season. Moving Luke Joeckel there is one option, writes Brady Henderson.
5 years ago
Michael Bennett on Justin Britt standing by his side during the national anthem Friday night: “I ...
Brady Henderson

Justin Britt stands by Michael Bennett during national anthem: ‘A very emotional moment’

Seahawks center Justin Britt showed his support for teammate Michael Bennett Friday night, standing by him as Bennett remained seated during the national anthem.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks’ George Fant needs ACL surgery, likely out for season

The Seahawks' offensive line was dealt a massive blow with left tackle George Fant suffering a knee injury Friday night that will likely keep him out all season.
5 years ago
Reporter: Mariners keeping open mind on Montero