As the Yankee Universe revolves around spring training, there’s another article by yet another Yankees beat writer on Jesus Montero.
This time it’s Ben Shpigel of the Times with his piece on how much Montero has matured and while his bat is ready for the majors, his body isn’t.
Cashman recalled an instance from last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, when Montero, after falling behind to Jesse Crain, 0-2, sensed that an outside breaking ball was coming. It did, and Montero poked it down the right-field line for a double.
“It’s amazing that at 20 years old he’s a .320 lifetime hitter,” Long said. (Montero’s career average is actually .325.) “But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man.
Montero himself even admits that he wants to move up in the organization as a catcher (even though he started as a middle infielder). The Yankees are committed to making that happen and with two former catchers on the bench (Joe Girardi and Tony Pena), and Jorge Posada as a mentor, Montero has everything in place for him to do that.
The catching instructor Tony Pena and Manager Joe Girardi have worked with Montero on refining his throwing mechanics, specifically on shortening his release.
According to the Yankees, Montero usually needs 1.9 to 2.0 seconds to catch and throw the ball to second base, whereas an elite catcher, like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, can do it in about 1.7. Long after his teammates had finished their morning workout Saturday, Montero remained in the Yankees’ bullpen to work on his throwing technique with Girardi.
Pena said: “He has a strong arm — a very strong arm — but he can’t rely on that. If he has the proper mechanics, everything else will take over, and then we’ll have what we like.”
Posada’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and it’s a good bet we’ll see Montero behind the plate in 2012. If not before as the primary backup next year. One thing’s for sure, the Yankees have their Matt Wieters in development-mode.