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April 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Wedge on Montero: “He’s not ready to catch every day yet”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge continues to get asked frequently about Jesus Montero and his playing time behind the plate. Wedge was expansive about the topic before tonight’s game, expressing the opinion that every-day playing time at catcher would actually be counter-productive for Montero’s development.
Here’s what he said:
“He’s a young catcher. Every day he’s back there, he’s learning. He has so much responsibility back there, and there’s so much going on, it just takes time. He’s not ready to catch every day yet. He needs days off. He needs to get back behind home plate every now and again to catch, but we need to be careful with his workload. We have to make sure we stay ahead of everything for him mentally and physically. The fundamental side of everything is a day to day process. He’s got a lot on his plate.”
This is Montero’s fourth start at catcher in the Mariners’ 15th game. Wedge reiterated that their plan all along was to bring Montero along slowly

“That was part of the equation when we brought him over here,” he said. “What people need to understand is it would actually take him longer to be the total player he needs to be if he was back there every day right now. Because it would get in the way of his development. It is what it it is. I just know that first hand.”
Wedge often compares Montero’s development to that of Victor Martinez, a raw catcher when he came up to the Indians while Wedge was their manager.
“Even when I had Victor, I sent him down. I sent him to Triple-A for the first half of the season,” Wedge said. “He needed to do some things. He wasn’t ready. Then when he came back in the second half, you had to be careful with him. Then his first full year, you had to be careful with him. Eventually he developed into the All-Star caliber player he was.”
Montero currently is on a pace to catch 42 games, but I’d expect that to be accelerated as the season progresses. I’m surprised John Jaso isn’t being worked into the catching mix, but I can only assume Wedge wasn’t blown over by what he saw from Jaso in spring training. Put those two factors together — Wedge’s belief that Montero shouldn’t be playing every day, and his obvious reluctance to use Jaso, and voila, you have Miguel Olivo behind the plate 75 percent of the time. We’ll see if that holds up.
I asked him about putting Montero with Hector Noesi again after their success last week, and their history together in the Yankee system.
“It worked out well,” he said. “I don’t want them to be co-dependent on each other. But it’s a nice setup for us. He comes off a nice start, and maybe he’ll be able to double up on his last outing. If it didn’t work out in regard to matchups, and where we were with the night game and the day game and everything else that goes into it, it wasn’t mandatory, but it works out nice.”

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