Jack Zduriencik on Jesus Montero’s demotion, future

May 23, 2013, 3:43 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm
LISTEN:

By Shannon Drayer

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was sat down last night and given the news that he was being sent to Triple-A Tacoma. In the eyes of general manager Jack Zduriencik, the move was the right move to be made both for the player and the team.

With Mike Zunino clearly the catcher of the future, the determination was made that Montero no longer needed to focus on catching and that perhaps that focus was hurting his hitting.

23eba102-ea96-42ba-8db0-c4b00e9d27c0
Jesus Montero’s days as a primary catcher appear to be over as the Mariners will now focus on trying to maximize his offensive potential. (AP)

Montero put in the work behind the plate. It did seem to be his first priority. He seemed to understand and enjoy the responsibility of handling pitchers that comes with the job, and yet he was not able to take steps forward with the mechanics of the position.

It was a telling sign that a move could be coming when manager Eric Wedge started Kelly Shoppach in both games against the Angels, a team that would run if it had a chance.

“It’s simple,” Zduriencik said of sending Montero down. “Sometimes a player has to take a step back to take two steps forward. He’s just 23. He’s just a puppy. We told him this is normal for a player to go up and down until they figure it out.”

It was pointed out to Montero that he was acquired to be a “big-time offensive player” for the Mariners for a long time to come.

“Bottom line is, are you the offensive player you think you can be?” Montero was asked.

Montero was told the move was about maximizing his gifts. The move was made so he would have the chance to be that big-time offensive hitter at the major-league level, in the position that was best for him and the organization.

That will not be at catcher. Zduriencik said Montero will get to work on the hitting right away. He will get his at-bats without the pressure he perhaps was feeling at the big-league level. He will DH, get some work at first and catch occasionally.

While the catching clearly has not worked out, interestingly enough, if Montero is able to play first the Mariners could end up with a needed piece – a third catcher. Having a player that can play a primary position and catch is a luxury for managers. It will take time to see if he can acclimate himself to the new position, but if he does, all of a sudden he gives the team some flexibility moving forward.

This move no doubt will be tough on Montero. As I said above, he put the work in at catching and while he did not excel at it I think he did enjoy and take pride in being behind the plate. It is part of his identity. As aloof as he has seemed at times, I do believe catching is important to him and losing that will be as bitter a pill to swallow as being sent down.

Hopefully he puts that behind him quickly. He has three days to report to Tacoma. Zduriencik told me no timetable has been put on him for a return.

“We told him it is the right thing to do for him, his future and for the organization,” Zduriencik said. “Take a step back, and then how you handle it, it’s in your lap now.”

No starting pitcher.

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Areas Of Fog then Haze
High 75° | Low 54°
No game today.

Seattle Mariners

Mariners...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners’ Wild Card roster, Game 1 lineup vs Blue Jays in playoff opener

Check out the Mariners' Wild Card roster and Game 1 lineup vs the Blue Jays, with notes on who made the team and who the cleanup hitter is.
9 hours ago
Mariners Toronto...
The Associated Press

Mariners-Blue Jays Preview: Premier pitching matchup for Game 1

There's a whole lot riding on the battle of Toronto's Alek Manoah and the Mariners' Luis Castillo in Friday's wild card opener.
9 hours ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
Shannon Drayer

Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Excitement, not nerves, evident for M’s in Toronto

From the ground in Toronto, Mariners insider Shannon Drayer shares what she learned from the players, who had an optional workout Thursday, and more notes.
1 day ago
Mariners Andres Munoz...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners-Blue Jays a battle of strengths with Seattle’s arms and Toronto’s bats

The Blue Jays' strength is their hitting and the Mariners' strength is their pitching. Brandon Gustafson provides some numbers on the matchup.
1 day ago
Mariners Logan Gilbert...
Brandon Gustafson

How Mariners’ starting rotation looks for Wild Card round vs Blue Jays

The Mariners have announced their current plan for the starting rotation against the Blue Jays in the best-of-three Wild Card round.
1 day ago
Mariners...
Joe Fann

Fann: Emotionally preparing for 1st Mariners playoff series in 21 years

With the Mariners set to play postseason baseball for the first time since 2001, Joe Fann shares how he's feeling emotionally about this year.
1 day ago
Jack Zduriencik on Jesus Montero’s demotion, future