It's not only his offense that is impressing. The former catcher has also made great strides learning how to play first base.
“I mean, he’s a good first baseman now,’’ Tacoma hitting coach Cory Snyder said, per The Seattle Times. “He could play first base in the big leagues right now. It wouldn’t even bother me.”
Montero's success on the field is supported by a turnaround with his attitude. He showed up to camp this year down from 275 pounds to 230 pounds. He has also put behind him a 2013 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and an incident last year when he threw ice cream at a scout.
“It’s kind of a new lease on life in baseball,’’ Snyder said. “He got everything in order he needed to off the field. With his life, with his family, with kind of everything."
Peterson (No. 2), Marte (No. 3) and Kivlehan (No. 4) are among the Mariners' top prospects, according to Baseball America.
"Right now, I'm just working on the details, fine-tuning what I know. I'm really grateful to the Mariners for the opportunity they have given me to prove myself and what kind of player I am," Montero said. "As you know, baseball is a game of ups and downs, and it's up to you to stay positive. Personally, I'm feeling confident and I believe things will work out. It's early in spring training and God willing, it will all be fine for the regular season."
Montero, who is competing for a backup first baseman role, has a big loop in his swing, according to manager Lloyd McClendon, and has to "clean it up."
"It doesn't happen overnight," McClendon said. "Baseball players are creatures of habit. You do things a certain way every day and then you are asked to make changes and that's tough. But these are changes that he is going to have to make. I certainly think he is up to the task."
Montero is 3 for 15 with one walk and six walks in seven appearances this spring.
"I felt really good yesterday," Montero said Thursday morning, per MLB.com. "I've been working so hard for this. I've been thinking positive every single day. The work I'm putting in with [strength coach James Clifford] and all the guys in the gym has been awesome because you see the good results right away. Just being in shape, just being at this weight and feeling good, it's a change and it's fabulous.
"I feel so much better. Just running around the bases, feeling good, being in shape and moving and all that, it was fun."
Montero added he is fully dedicated to playing first base, and his improved agility was on notice Wednesday when he made a nice stretch at first to complete a nice defensive play by third baseman Carlos Rivero.
"Last year I was still thinking as a catcher," he said. "Now I'm 100 percent about first base. That's what they want me to do and I'm putting all my heart, all my honesty, all my love into first base and it's been coming good. When you're playing first, you want to do your best for your teammates in the infield and help make things easier for them and that's what I'm trying to do."
Zduriencik added Montero will be "a guy we'll take a good look at" this spring.
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