Montero catching fire when behind the dish

Montero catching fire when behind the dish

Montero catching fire when behind the dish
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariners rookie Jesus Montero has hit the ball much better when he's been catching so far this season, as opposed to when he's at designated hitter. The difference is considerable, but the number of games so far is limited, so drawing conclusions might be premature.

A year ago, the youngster hit better at DH while with the Yankees, so that's worth adding to the equation. But going into Wednesday night's game against the Rays, Montero was hitting .542 (13-for-24) with three home runs and eight RBIs in seven games while he was behind the plate.

In 16 games at designated hitter, he's hitting .197 (12-for-61) with one home run and five RBIs.

Coincidence? Small sample size? Some of both? Manager Eric Wedge isn't dismissing the dramatic difference.

"I think most players do better when they play, because it's not just one dimension," Wedge said. "You're out there playing the game, you're not sitting around thinking about or dissecting your at-bats, from one at-bat 30 to 35 minutes to the next at-bat.

"I think that's just human nature, most people would be better. It takes a special guy to go out there and just DH, and usually it's a veteran guy."

Montero said he's fine in either role, but acknowledged it's easier to get in a flow when he's also catching.

"I just don't think about hitting," he said. "I try to hit and make good contact every time. I worry more about my pitchers because I want to win and call the right pitches, too."

Given time, Montero surely will improve his DH numbers this season. He did just fine in that role with the Yankees last September, hitting .340 (17-for-50) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. In the three games he caught for New York, he hit .300 (3-for-10) with no home runs and two RBIs.

"I did it last year," he said. "When I'm DHing, we create a routine. I'm running every single time, getting loose, so I'll be warm and ready. But it's hard because sometimes you hit the ball hard and they catch it."