Montero Adds Thunder To M's Lineup

SEATTLE — He's only 21, but Jesus Montero has spent years dragging around the albatross of others downplaying his defensive abilities.

He was such a good hitting prospect that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez once told him he wasn't spending enough time in the batting cage, and A-Rod said he was going to fine him $100 each day he didn't make an appearance in the cage.
But Montero, a catcher better known as a slugger, dismisses suggestions that he is just a hitter. He was the centerpiece to the January deal that brought him and righthander Hector Noesi to the Mariners from the Yankees for righthanders Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

"I'm here looking for a chance to catch," Montero said. "I'm coming (to Seattle) looking for an opportunity."

Montero thought the opportunity would come out of spring training last year with the Yankees, for whom he was the best-looking young hitter in the organization. But it didn't happen, and he spent the entire season at Triple-A before a September callup, during which he hit four home runs.

Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said whether Montero serves as a catcher or as a DH will be determined in spring training.

"We felt that we really needed a boost in our offense," Zduriencik said. "We identified some young players around baseball who could be the type of hitter to be here for years to come. He was one of those.

"It was difficult to give up Michael Pineda, an all-star and a wonderful young man. We will always really root for Michael. Jesus is part of our family now. He's 21 years of age, and we have a very young ballclub, and he would have been the youngest player on the roster (in 2011)."

If he'd been in Seattle last year, Montero probably wouldn't have had to wait to get to the big leagues. In 2012, it seems his wait is finally over.


• The Mariners signed veteran righthander Kevin Millwood and lefthander Oliver Perez to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.

• After being limited to just 83 games last season because of injuries, outfielder James Jones played well in the Australia Baseball League, hitting .307/.398/.542 with eight home runs over 166 at-bats.