Wedge tabs youthful Montero to catch Millwood

Wedge tabs youthful Montero to catch Millwood

SEATTLE -- After solid outings, a pitcher often will give credit to the catcher for calling a great game. But how many signs really come from the catcher, and how often does a pitcher dictate what is thrown?

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is a big proponent of the guy behind the dish running things, but the former Major League catcher knows it isn't that simple.

"I'm a big believer in the catcher running the ballgame, but the pitcher's going to throw what he wants," Wedge said. "That's where the communication has to come in, that's where the relationship is a big part of it, that's where the preparation comes into play and that's also being in the moment and recognizing what's happening with each particular at-bat."

But even that can change when veterans start working with young players. For the second time this season, Wedge did just that when Kevin Millwood took the mound. Millwood, 37, threw to Jesus Montero, 22, on Tuesday night, just as he did in his season debut April 11 in Texas.

This was Montero's third start behind the plate this season, as Wedge gave regular Miguel Olivo the night off. The team's third catcher, John Jaso, filled the designated hitter's role that Montero normally occupies.

But with a pitcher who has 16 Major League seasons under his belt throwing to a first-year player, Wedge acknowledged Millwood might be the decision-maker more often Tuesday.

"I think that if you got a veteran guy on the mound, he's going to throw what he wants to throw," Wedge said. "I think that regardless of who you are on the mound, you got to throw what you want to throw because there's got to be conviction behind it. But ultimately, if you've got a veteran catcher versus a young pitcher, or the other way around, it usually sways in that direction.

"But as a catcher, I put the responsibility on the catcher to be prepared, to understand what a particular pitcher wants to do in a particular situation, understanding what his strengths are and how we're going to work from there -- that's where the relationship comes into play."