ARLINGTON -- After all the questions about his defensive abilities, rookie catcher Jesus Montero had a solid showing in his first game behind the plate Wednesday for the Mariners in their come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Rangers.
Montero, 22, was regarded as one of baseball's premier hitting prospects coming up with the Yankees, but some baseball people questioned whether he'd ever be an everyday starting catcher after Seattle acquired him by trade for Michael Pineda. But after playing strictly at designated hitter in Seattle's first six games, the 6-foot-3 youngster handled himself well in his catching debut.
"I thought he did a great job," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge, himself a former backstop. "I think anybody watching the game saw a young man back there that caught a great ballgame. He handled [Kevin] Millwood good, handled the bullpen very well. He blocked the ball well, called a good game, received well. I was really impressed with him behind the plate."
The Rangers stole one base on Montero, but he blocked several of Millwood's pitches in the dirt and handled everything thrown at him defensively. Then he delivered a critical sacrifice fly as Seattle scored three runs in the top of the ninth for the winning rally.
"I was very happy to be behind the plate," Montero said. "I did my best. I was hustling back there to help Millwood and the other pitchers, too. I was blocking balls, trying to keep it in front of me. We did a good job together."
Millwood, 37, said he let Montero know what he wanted to throw in different situations, but said the youngster stayed on the same page with him.
"He did well," said Millwood, who threw six innings of one-run ball in his Mariners debut. "We talked a little before about what was going on and what I wanted to do. He went along with it pretty well and it was pretty seamless for me."
Montero extended his hitting streak to five games with a 1-for-3 night, his average at .286, and he was back at designated hitter in Thursday's series finale with veteran Miguel Olivo remaining the regular starter behind the plate.
But Wedge said Montero's day will come and that all the preconceived notions about his defensive liabilities seem far off base.
"I don't know where it comes from," said Wedge. "It's like anything else in today's social media. Something starts and it takes on a life of its own. This guy has done a solid job all spring. He does nothing but continue to get better and he just turned 22.
"I've been very specific and confident in the fact I believe this guy is very capable of being an everyday catcher at some point in time, but there's no reason to rush him. He's still breaking into the big leagues, going through a lot of things each and every day for the first time, and he's right on track. I've been very pleased."