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Topic: Jesus Montero

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April 28, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Game thread: Mariners 1, Angels 1, bottom of 7th

Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakua has the best ERA of any AL pitcher since the All-Star Break of last season (minimum 15 starts) at 2.37.

Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakua has the best ERA of any AL pitcher since the All-Star Break of last season (minimum 15 starts) at 2.37.

Jason Bay just tied the game on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, hitting a solo homer just beyond the left field wall. That’s a Safeco-fences-moved-in shot right there and Jason Vargas is the victim. As for the Mariners, they truly needed that one. We’re tied 1-1 in the seventh.

2:40 p.m.: The Mariners blinked first and trail 1-0 after an unearned run by the Angels in the sixth courtesy of shortstop Robert Andino’s error. With Austin Romine on second and one out, Mike Trout hit a grounder to Andino, who appeared to have his eye on third base. Trout would have been tough to nail at first because he’s so quick up the line and Andino might have had a better shot at third. But the ball got by him and rendered the whole point moot.

2:15 p.m.: We’re still scoreless heading to the fifth inning of a solid mound duel between Hisashi Iwakuma and Jason Vargas. Remember, Vargas pitches for the Angels now. Both teams have two hits apiece, the Mariners getting a one-out double to right by Kelly Shoppach last frame. But they failed to get him any further than that.

Menawhile, Iwakuma has logged six strikeouts already and retired the last seven in a row.

12:55 p.m.: This is a pretty important game for the Mariners. Take today’s contest against former Mariners starter Jason Vargas and the Mariners will have claimed three of four from the Los Angeles Angels and grabbed their first series of the season.

It’s late April, so that series win is long overdue. The Mariners have also not won two in a row since April 1 and 2 in Oakland. I can guarantee you, this will never be a .500 club if the Mariners fail to win two in a row the rest of the season.

They have Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound today and have played three pretty good games to start this series. Win three here, they will start to distance themselves a bit from that putrid road trip and can focus on how to get themselves back to the .500 mark come June. Michael Saunders is expected back in action tomorrow for the Mariners as long as he feels OK playing center field for Class AAA Tacoma today.

Saunders text messaged manager Eric Wedge last night and told him “I’m ready!”

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Comments | More in game thread | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma, jason vargas, Jesus Montero

February 19, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Watching the dynamic between Mariners catchers

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Filming this little bit of a catchers drill at Mariners camp, I was struck not so much by the actual catching and throwing part, but by some of the interplay and exchanges between the catchers, coach Jeff Datz and manager Eric Wedge.

Watch a bit of it and you can see who feels comfortable taking charge out there, who needs a little work on that and just how the three guys doing the drill relate to one another. The three catchers featured are Mike Zunino, Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach, in that order. Just by watching, you can see the stature that Shoppach carries and how the others listen to what he has to say. This is the kind of stuff you don’t get to see looking at boxscores or even watching on TV during the season. Frankly, this is the thing I enjoy most about covering spring training. Getting to show you all the kind of stuff up close that is difficult to understand unless you can watch it up close. Just from being here — without having to be told anything officially — you can see how Shoppach is going to make the team regardless of what his spring stats look like.

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“He’s done a nice job,” Wedge said of Shoppach. “I’ve known him from early on in Cleveland when he was younger. Had him the first couple years when he broke in. It’s been nice to see how far along he’s come. He’s had a leadership personality for us, in particular with the pitchers and the catchers. He does have some presence. He’s a good ballplayer. He’s a winning ballplayer.”

On paper, you’d never imagine that a first round draft pick (No. 3 overall) like Zunino, or a highly-rated young MLB prospect like Montero would give a hoot what a backup like Shoppach has to say. Or even a manager like Wedge who barely played catcher in the majors. But the reality of big league ball is that they do. The reason is that Shoppach has lasted in the majors while Zunino has yet to play a game and Montero is still learning how to play his position at this level. That’s not a knock on the young guys, just reality.  They may have talent, but honing it and using it to the best of their abilities is what this is all about and the margin between success and failure is razor thin. In the end, it’s Wedge’s job — regardless of his own prior on-field success as a catcher — to get the most out of his players any way he can and to make them into what they are supposed to be.

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: eric wedge, Jesus Montero, kelly shoppach

February 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Day 2 in the books for Mariners: Carter Capps looks like he wants to hurt somebody in the bullpen

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Did a radio segment about an hour ago and was asked which player stood out the most for me today. That one was easy enough: young Carter Capps went into his bullpen session like it was Game 7 of the World Series and nearly took veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach’s hand off a couple of times.

“He got Shoppach’s attention early on,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge quipped.

Have a look at a video of the session up above.

Wedge said he isn’t too worried about Capps throwing so hard, so early.

“Thats who he is,” Wedge said. “He’s a big strong kid who throws hard. You look at effort. Aslong as you don’t see anybody putting themselves into a position to…try to do too much, that’s where you’ve got to pay attention. You’ve got eyes on these young pitchers out there and we have the conversations we need to have with these guys. We make sure they stay where they need to stay.”

Speaking of Shoppach, I asked Wedge about his catchers this year and whether he felt there was a need to further address all the passed balls and wild-pitches that went to the backstop last season. Teams go over pitch blocking every spring — you saw it in the video earlier today — but I asked whether the Mariners planned to focus extra-hard on it this spring.

Wedge said no.

“I think we’ve got a different cast of characters now,” Wedge said. “And I think that when you talk about our catching crew, I look at the five catchers that are in our camp right now…and you’ve got some guys who have some big league time and you’ve got some young catchers who should play in the big leagues for a long time. So, it’s a nice combination.”

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: carter capps, Jesus Montero, kameron loe

February 14, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Watch Mike Zunino, Jesus Montero and other Mariners catchers in a pitch-blocking drill

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Most of the Mariners are now coming off the field after a second day of workouts here in Peoria. I had a chance to watch the catchers put through some blocking drills under the tutelage of catching co-ordinator Jeff Datz this morning. Blocking pitches became a big issue last season when Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero and John Jaso allowed a ton of passed balls and wild pitches to get by them.

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino blocks a pitch in the dirt during a morning drill.

Clearly, this is an important area for the Mariners to be focusing on.

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Comments | Topics: catchers, drills, Jesus Montero

February 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Jesus Montero meets media, repeats that he had nothing to do with Biogenesis clinic

Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma warms up on bullpen mound in Peoria, Ariz. this morning ahead of physicals for pitchers and catchers.

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero met with the media for the first time today and was asked about last week’s story that reported his name was on documents belonging to the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. The clinic has been linked to several big-name big leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez, and was said to be a supply depot for performance enhancing drugs.

Montero’s name was said to have appeared in clinic documents. But there was no direct link mentioned between Montero and PEDs.

You know that I was down here and asked Montero about this six days ago, but this was the first time for the rest of the Seattle media to ask Montero about it and he obliged.

He was asked what the past week has been like for him.

“It’s been fine for me,” he said. “I don’t really know what’s going on. I didn’t have anything to do with those people. I know my agent’s been handling everything. I don’t know anything about it. I just talked to my family, I told them ‘It’s nothing, don’t worry about.’

“We’re happy. I’m just doing my job over here trying to be ready for spring training and be ready for the season. What can I say? It surprised me too.”

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I asked Montero about his brother, also named Jesus and a catcher in the Cardinals organization. Is it possible it was his brother’s name seen on documents and not his?

“No, we don’t have anything to do with that clinic,” he said.

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Comments | More in PED | Topics: alex rodriguez, anthony bosch, biogenesis

February 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Jesus Montero says he has “no clue” how name ended up in documents from South Florida clinic

A shot of Peoria Stadium in Arizona this morning, where Jesus Montero and other Mariners are working out at the team’s complex ahead of the start of spring training next week.

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero is in Arizona working out with teammates in preparation for the start of spring training next week. I caught up with him this morning as he was changing after his workout and asked him point blank how his name ended up in documents belonging to the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis.

“What can I tell you? I have no idea,” Montero said. “Like I said, I have no clue what happened. I feel like I’m caught in the middle of something and I don’t know why.”

Montero said he has never been a client of the clinic, or of owner Anthony Bosch.

“I don’t even know who he is,” he said. “I’ve never heard of him.”

Until this morning, that is.

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Comments | More in PED | Topics: AlexRodriguez, anthony bosch, biogenesis

February 6, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Report: Mariners catcher Jesus Montero is named in records from South Florida anti-aging clinic

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero has seen his name surface on a list of players linked to a South Florida anti-aging clinic said to have supplied AlexRodriguez and others with performance enhancing drugs. Photo Credit: AP

Obviously, this will need some follow-up. But a report out this morning in the New York Daily News lists Mariners catcher Jesus Montero as a client of a South Florida anti-aging clinic said to be a haven for those wanting to acquire performance enhancing drugs.

The clinic, Biogenesis, run by Anthony Bosch, has since been shuttered down. But it’s been the focus of increased investigation from MLB and federal officials the past week-plus since a report in the Miami New Times linked it as a supply point for PEDs given to Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and others in MLB.

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Comments | More in PED | Topics: alex rodriguez, anthony bosch, biogenesis

December 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Mariners announce Raul Ibanez signing, designate minor league pitcher D.J. Mitchell for assignment

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says Raul Ibanez will be looked at in both outfield corners, at DH and at first base. Photo Credit: AP

They took a while, but the Mariners finally made the Raul Ibanez signing official today along with the corresponding 40-man roster move. Minor league pitcher D.J. Mitchell, acquired in the Ichiro trade back in July, was designated for assignment, meaning the Mariners now have 10 days to trade him, release him or try to outright him through waivers.

Mitchell went 3-2 with a 2.96 ERA in eight starts for Class AAA Tacoma after the deal. He struck out 33 and walked 19over 48 2/3 innings.

We already spoke to Ibanez, 40, a few days ago and gave you his comments on the blog. But I also spoke by phone with GM Jack Zduriencik about the move and what he has in store for Ibanez and the other players who play positions similar to those in his skillset.

“I think what we’re going to do right now is give him a chance to come to camp and compete with our other players already here,” Zduriencik said. “After that, we’ll have a better idea of where this all shakes out.”

Now, Zduriencik isn’t talking about Ibanez winning a job so much as he is one of his younger players holding on to theirs. Ibanez is guaranteed $2.75 million and that’s not as easy to write off as some of those deals he gave to veteran relievers cut in spring training last season. Everybody associated with the Mariners expects Ibanez to make the team and get at least 400 at-bats. Otherwise, he would not have been guaranteed so much money.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: d.j. mitchell, Jack Zduriencik, Jesus Montero

November 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Don’t be surprised by Mariners’ pursuit of Mike Napoli

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Photo Credit: AP

The Mariners flew free agent Mike Napoli into Seattle early last week, before the Thanksgiving holiday. He spent the night here — yes, it was raining — got taken on a tour of Safeco Field, Pike Place Market and all the usual fun spots before having dinner with team officials.

One thing the Mariners were able to do with Napoli this winter, as opposed to with other free agents in years past, was an aggressive sales push on their plans to move in the ballpark fences. I’m told that was indeed a key feature of their overtures to him.

Napoli has also met with the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers — his former team — and negotiations are expected to continue right on through the winter meetings in Nashville next week.

Now, as most of you know, Napoli is a catcher by trade, but also can play first base and has served as a DH when needed. From all reports, he’s trying to land a three-or-four-year deal and the Mariners would be hard-pressed to get him on the short end of that, given that they aren’t the Red Sox or Rangers.

But that’s the reality of life in Seattle, which hasn’t sniffed a real post-season race in a decade. You have to pay more to get the quality here, because better teams will be trying to get those same players.

That said, pursuit of Napoli does not prevent the Mariners from landing other bats to go along with him. In fact, it would almost require them to do so. But whatever happens, don’t be surprised the Mariners are going after Napoli.

As with their interest in Billy Butler of the Royals, the Mariners are looking into these deals with an eye on fast-forwarding a rebuilding plan that has been proceeding at a glacial pace.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: catchers, Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak

November 19, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Why the Mariners won’t allow the presence of Jesus Montero or John Jaso to prevent them trading for Billy Butler

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There was always an element of skepticism to be had when word came out last week via Mariners president Chuck Armstrong about the team weighing Josh Hamilton options. As we wrote a couple of weeks back, the Mariners have made a cottage industry out of telling people the past decade that they’re looking at one free agent or another.
But it’s one thing to talk about it. Another thing to get it done.

And for me, any Hamilton pursuit — which I am in favor of — was always going to be dubious when it came to the Mariners. Back in late September, when Hamilton skipped a series in Seattle with balance/depth percetion issues, it raised a red flag for members of the team’s hierarchy.

The last thing a team that got burned by Franklin Gutierrez and his mysterious stomach issues wants is an even larger-scale boondoggle with Hamilton. But for me, that type of concern should apply to both a short and a long-term deal in Hamilton’s case. After all, if you’re worried that Hamilton has some type of issue that plagued him late in the season, logic dictates the immediate future would be as big — or bigger — a worry with him than would seasons 2014-2017.

In other words, I’ve just never bought into the Mariners as serious players on Hamilton. Just can’t see them doing it. And that’s why, when some of you write in asking me about it, I tell you that I would take the chance on Hamilton but just can’t see the Mariners taking on the risk.

For me, you can find a reason to balk at any high-priced free agent. There’s always some type of potential huge risk involved. With Prince Fielder, it was his weight. With other guys, it’s the whispers about steroids or HGH use perhaps inflating performance. With Hamilton, it will be durability concerns and some of the unknowns about what really caused his season’s downward slide this past year.

But when Hamilton is out there, he’s still one of the most dangerous hitters in the game today. And if he’s out there only 130 games per year, that’s still 130 games of production better than just about anything the Mariners can put on the field.

Let’s move on, for now, though. Since the Mariners were never apparently that serious in Hamilton, no matter what some people read into Armstrong’s comments.

One avenue I have gone more strongly on in writing about when it comes to the Mariners this off-season has been the possibility of a trade with the Kansas City Royals. There are two bats that look like they would clearly upgrade the Mariners at present. No, young third baseman Mike Moustakas is not one of them.

Moustakas would give the Mariners another body to add to their ever-growing “All Hope Team” but in terms of results, he’s been a below average hitter in the majors so far. And besides, a team like the Royals isn’t going to trade their version of Dustin Ackley or Justin Smoak just yet. That’s still a franchise that plays the smaller-market Moneyball game and so a young bat with upside who doesn’t cost a lot is going to be held on to while the older ones that are more expensive will be moved.

That leads us to where the Royals and Mariners have a fit: Billy Butler and Alex Gordon.

The Mariners need to upgrade with something a bit more proven than Moustakas and would have that in either of those two players. Gordon would give the team the corner outfield bat it needs — in this case, in left field — while Butler would be a DH upgrade over Jesus Montero and also provide a backup first baseman.

In both cases, these two players are close to reaching their full MLB potential, where a guy like Moustakas is still in the development stage. This isn’t a shot at Moustakas, but the Mariners are well past the time to move beyond always planning for three years down the road and start to show signs of actually doing something in the present.
Gordon or Butler would help that happen.

And the best part is, neither of the two is so expensive that he would prevent the Mariners from upgrading further in acquiring a guy like Nick Swisher via free agency to play right field. In fact, I’ll submit that if Butler is the serious Mariners trade target — as post-GM meetings tweets are now suggesting — then a further Swisher acquisition makes perfect sense.
Photo Credit: AP

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Comments | Topics: Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, Mike Zunino

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