Jesus Montero: “I’m here to learn and get better”

Montero, Jesus

Jesus Montero, regarded as one of the top hitting prospects in baseball three years ago when he was acquired by the Mariners, was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma by the club on Thursday and said he’s ready to do what it takes to stay in the big leagues.

Montero, 24, was added to the 25-man roster after outfielder Michael Saunders went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday night

Montero arrived in Seattle from Memphis, Tenn., on Thursday in time to suit up for their 7:10 p.m. PT game against the Yankees at Safeco Field, though the 24-year-old was not in manager Lloyd McClendon’s starting lineup against right-handed rookie Chase Whitley.

McClendon said Montero will play primarily against left-handed pitchers, mostly at designated hitter, though there’s an outside chance he might see some time at first base.

Montero was hitting .270 with 15 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 59 games with Tacoma with a .465 slugging percentage and .800 OPS and said he learned from his experience after failing to make the Mariners’ roster in Spring Training.

“It’s tough. It’s Triple-A and there are a lot of veteran guys there pitching,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a little tough, but sometimes you’ve got a good couple games. I feel great to be here, I feel like I earned it, I feel like I learned something. Now I want to be here forever.”

What did he learn?

“The biggest thing for me was how valuable it is to be in the big leagues, how good it is to be in the big leagues,” said the youngster. “I have to respect the game, I have to do the best to be here all my life and to help the team to win.”

While Saunders is an outfielder, the Mariners have more of a need for a designated hitter at this point as they’ve been operating without a full-time DH since Corey Hart went on the 15-day disabled list on May 19 with a strained hamstring. Montero will get his chance to show now if he’s ready.

“I think he’s trying to get things back together,” McClendon said. “He’s been working hard and he’s actually been swinging the bat better than the numbers indicated down there. For me, he was the logical choice. We’ve got a 15-day DL [with Saunders] and he’s on the roster. It just makes sense to bring this young man up and give him the opportunity.”

Montero said he worked on conditioning as well as his first-base efforts while in Triple-A and will continue to do so, noting that he feels he’s improving at the new defensive position. While he’ll play mostly DH for McClendon,  he was already planning early defensive work with infield coach Chris Woodward.

“It’s getting better, a lot better,” Montero said. “I’ve been doing my early work every single day. I’ll bet today I’m going to do something with Woody. He’s waiting for me. I’m here to learn and here to get better.”

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