KANSAS CITY -- Jesus Montero is enjoying an uptick in his offense as much as any of his teammates in the last few games, and it's a much-welcomed breakthrough for the Mariners rookie after a tough six-week stretch.
From June 1 to July 14, Montero hit .216 (22-for-102) with just one home run, three doubles, one RBI and four runs despite batting in the heart of Seattle's lineup for much of that stretch. But in his last three games going into Wednesday night's contest with the Royals, Montero was 6-for-12 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs.
Montero hit the ball very hard his first three at-bats in Tuesday's 9-6 win, ripping an RBI double to center in the first, an RBI single to left in the second and a sharp single to left again in the fourth. The Royals intentionally walked him in the fifth with two outs and a runner on third rather than give him another run-scoring opportunity.
This is more of the Montero the Mariners were expecting after trading Michael Pineda for the top 22-year-prospect from the Yankees. And it's more of the Montero he expects from himself. But perhaps it's those high expectations themselves that have led to some of the struggles as the youngster has pressed to produce in this first season in Seattle.
"He's a good hitter," manager Eric Wedge said. "But sometimes good hitters, especially young hitters, feel like they can hit everything. You still have to have command of the hitting zone and lay off pitches that are tough to hit."
Montero might finally be getting that message.
"I just have to be calm and try to see good pitches, because sometimes I get too happy, too jumpy, and that's what gets me out," Montero said. "It's hard, but I've tried to stay calm all the time, because I want to do good every single time. But it's not easy."
It hasn't hurt that the Mariners have seen a steady diet of left-handers the last three games. For the season, Montero is batting .355 vs. lefties and .204 against right-handers. He's also batting .297 on the road compared to .206 at Safeco Field.
But whatever the factors, it had been awhile since Montero contributed and the rookie sounded relieved to turn that around.
"It means a lot for me because for a long time I didn't have an RBI," he said. "It was getting crazy. But I just tried to do my work and routines and now I'm feeling better."