DENVER -- As the Mariners open their first Interleague series in Denver, rookie catcher Jesus Montero is out of the lineup for the second day in a row as manager Eric Wedge gives him a break following a busy stretch carrying the bulk of the catching work with Miguel Olivo on the disabled list.
"He needs it," Wedge said. "We've talked about it. He's just not ready to play every day. We're going to get him in there as much as we can, but he has a lot to process mentally. We're asking a lot of him. We don't have the DH spot available, and he needs a couple days off behind the plate."
After starting the season with an eight-game hitting streak, setting a .370 (10-for-27) pace, Montero has cooled considerably, enduring a 3-for-30 stretch over his past nine games, including a pair of uncharacteristically ugly strikeouts in Thursday's 11-inning loss to the Indians after entering the game as a pinch-hitter.
"That's a red flag," Wedge said of Montero's swings out of the strike zone. "It just tells you that mentally he's not in a place where he needs to be right now, which is not uncommon for a young player, especially a young player that you're giving a lot of responsibility to, that you're throwing in the middle of the lineup, because he's done a nice job for you. So to give him a couple days off is a healthy thing right now. We all know he's going to be a heck of a player, but he has a lot to learn. He has lot that he has to do from day to day to get to that point."
Montero, 22, made his Major League debut last year with the Yankees and hit .328 (20-for-61) in 18 September games, including three starts behind the dish and 14 as a DH. He was 2-for-2 with an RBI and one run scored in the Division Series against the Tigers.
Wedge stressed that the challenge of breaking into the big leagues is even more demanding for a catcher.
"You've just got so much responsibility back there, you've got so much that you've got to work through mentally, whether it be in your preparation or your process throughout the course of a ballgame, your relationship with everybody involved," Wedge said. "It's so much more than any other position."