Long before most major league players arrive in the big leagues, they’ve played most positions on the field.
Dustin Ackley, for instance, has played everywhere but pitcher, even catching when he was 12 years old and playing for his father.
“I played catcher when I was 4 years old,” Montero said Tuesday. “I never played another position.”
No shortstop, first base, third base, outfield – never?
“Never,” the Mariners’ rookie catcher said. “I loved the position, and I didn’t want to play anything else. It taught me to play hard. It was a tough position.”
Montero said he was never injured catching until turning pro.
Three years ago, he called for a curve and got a fastball.
“Broke a finger,” Montero said, shrugging.
When he was 12, he said, he began taking the position more seriously, learning about calling pitches.
“Whether you’re in your first year or your 20th, I think you can learn little things every day,” Montero said. “I go over hitters with our pitchers before every game and get a feel for how they want to pitch each guy.
“I’m not the general. I don’t sit behind the plate and order the pitcher to throw this pitch. He has the ball. He has the right to shake me off and throw what he wants.”
The best games, Montero said, are those when he and the pitcher are in sync.
“When you’re on the same page, I put down the sign, and it’s exactly what he wanted to throw, and we go from there,” Montero said. “I’m back there to help the pitcher.”
SO, HOW DID IT TASTE?
From the Something-You’ve-Probably-Never-Seen-Before File: As he left the batting cage Tuesday, catcher Miguel Olivo licked his bat.
Asked why, Olivo pointed to the bat.
“This is my livelihood,” he said. “I do it every day if I foul a pitch back.”
Now you know.
ICHIRO GETS A BREAK
Ichiro Suzuki was Seattle’s designated hitter Tuesday, in part because manager Eric Wedge wanted to get Casper Wells in the starting lineup.
In part, however, it was to “get Ichiro off his feet” a bit.
“Everyone needs days off,” Wedge said. “Days off are more for the mental side than the physical. Physically, this will help Ichiro a little. The day off he had last week was just to give him a break.”
Charlie Furbush struck out three in a scoreless inning Tuesday to extend his streak to 17 consecutive appearances in which he’s struck out at least one batter. He has not allowed a run in his past 20 innings – the fourth-longest streak by a reliever in franchise history. The team record of 282/3 was set by Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 2003. … The Mariners’ blankings on Sunday and Monday were the 31st time in team history that they’ve been shutout in back-to-back games. … Wedge’s lineup Tuesday was his 65th different version in 76 games this season. … Ichiro has 99 career home runs. His next one will make him the 12th player to hit at least 100 homers with Seattle.
Seattle plays host to Oakland in a 12:40 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. Kevin Millwood (3-6, 4.02).firstname.lastname@example.org @LarryLaRue