Using a big bat, Jesus Montero came through with the first big blast — a two-run home run in the second inning — in the Mariners’ 6-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday afternoon.
It was Montero’s first home run with the Mariners since May 8, 2013, and it came during his first at-bat on his first day playing first base in the majors.
“Today,” Montero said, “was a fun day.”
Montero was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma last week.
“I really appreciate the opportunity that the Mariners are giving me again,” Montero added. “It was really hard for me what I was going through last year — very tough year. But little by little, I was in Triple-A working hard to be here, and then they give me an opportunity again and I feel really happy that they were paying attention to me. Now I’m here. I appreciate that opportunity and I just want to help the team win. Whatever they need me (to do) — if you have to catch or pitch or whatever, I will do it.”
Facing Padres lefty Eric Stults, Montero used a 34-inch bat that weighed 34 ounces, a couple ounces heavier than the bat he would use against most right-handers, he said.
On a hit-and-run play, Montero got out in front of a low changeup and drove it on a line out of the park to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the second.
“If you look at his numbers his rookie year (in 2012), they’re pretty impressive: He hit .262 with 15 home runs and 60-plus RBIs as a young catcher,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “So he’s certainly impressive. You know, he’s had some obstacles along the way; we all know about those. But he’s making amends and he’s trying to come back and he’s trying to do the right thing.”
Montero made the shift to first base this year with Class AAA Tacoma. In 42 games at first, he committed nine errors with the Rainiers.
Montero had handled all eight of his fielding chances without an error Tuesday before being replaced by Logan Morrison to start the seventh inning.
“The first thing, I kind of got nervous,” Montero said of his first start at first. “But after I hit the homer, I felt better. … I relaxed myself and I got some confidence and made a couple plays in there. … And now if you give me another opportunity to play first, I’ll be better.”