Jesus Montero reported to camp yesterday at 230 lbs. Last year, coming off a PED suspension he weighed in 275. lbs. Exiled to the PCL, the last month of the season he was suspended for an ugly incident in Boise involving a scout, an ice cream bar, and adolescent behavior by both parties. At 24, the player considered the best right-handed hitting prospect in baseball in 2011 was looking at the end of his major league baseball career.
Ryan Divish tells the story of yesterday’s press conference with Montero, The big right hander essentially apologized for all of his past failings, and pledged to reclaim his career. It must have been a humbling experience as he faced the press, took responsibility and answered questions. Check out the Divish article for some great backstory on Montero’s training regimen and level of commitment to his redemption.
The resurrection of Jesus Montero is a great story. I’m not sure what it means, if anything, in the long run. Somehow it would have to mean he is more than just a big right-handed bat that is equipped to be more than a designated hitter. That position is taken by $57 million worth of Nelson Cruz. The M’s also plopped down $2 million on right handed bat Rickie Weeks, who figures to be pressed into service in lots of different positions. That might leave room for Montero as a back up first baseman, but is that enough? I’m excited to see how this all plays out. I love rooting for an underdog and a redemption story.
In speaking of redemption, the Mariners signed left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to a minor league deal. Apparently they are not satisfied with the left-handed options they have to join Charlie Furbush in the bullpen. Of course you remember Joe, a fixture in the Mariners rotation in 2013. Brought in to replace the traded Jason Vargas, made 32 starts, went 11-16, and was frequently carried off the field on his shield, pelted by 232 hits in 183 innings. That’s a BABIP of .332. Yikes.
After being signed by Texas last year, Saunders spent most of last season in the minors searching for the magic. He may still be looking. The Mariners may hope that they can work the same sorcery on Saunders they did on Oliver Perez. Doubt it. They’re different kinds of pitchers, but it didn’t cost much and it’s worth a try.