Montero Easing into More Playing Time
Miguel Montero (AP/Chris Carlson)

Posted Jul 6, 2007


The Arizona Diamondbacks are high on both of their major league catchers, but Miguel Montero has been particularly hot, and has seen more starts in recent weeks. Despite ending Thursday night's game on a sour note, Montero appears to be the catcher of the future. Stephen Drew is heating up as well, and Jeff DaVanon has looked good in his rehab assignment.

INSIDE PITCH

Things didn't end the way Miguel Montero would have hoped Thursday, as he grounded into a game-ending double play in Arizona's 3-2 loss to the host St. Louis Cardinals.

But the rookie catcher has been on top of his game during the past several days. For the first time in his big-league career, he made three consecutive starts behind the plate, a possible sign of things to come as he shares the starting catching role with Chris Snyder.

Manager Bob Melvin likes the way Montero calls a game and loves his defensive abilities, too, but lately, the offense has been just as noticeable. Before going 0-for-3 against the Cardinals on Thursday, Montero was hitting .357 (10-for-28) with two homers and five RBIs in his previous eight games.

"You can see he's kind of getting some of his confidence back," Melvin said. "Typically, when you get to the big leagues as a catcher, you've been the guy who has been in charge. With a veteran staff, sometimes it's more difficult to be that guy in charge right away. But you can see him starting to take charge a little bit more.

"Chris Snyder does a terrific job back there, too. Sometimes, if you go 0-for-4 and call the right game, that might add up to three or four RBIs. It's just the way the catching position is. It never really shows up. You can't say what the recipe is behind the plate and how many runs you save because of the game you called. Both of these guys have the ability to do it behind the plate. Both have the ability to do it offensively."

Miguel Montero Prospect Profile

CARDINALS 3, DIAMONDBACKS 2: Miguel Montero hit into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the ninth inning as the Cardinals held on to win three of the four games in the series.

Doug Davis allowed a three-run homer to Juan Encarnacion in the sixth, but the Diamondbacks rallied in the eighth with a two-run triple by pinch hitter Augie Ojeda. But Montero couldn't push across any runs in the final at-bat of the night, which ended with the Cardinals' fifth double play of the game.

"If we execute, we win," said Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, whose club is 3-8 in its past 11 games. "We had a man on third and less than two outs twice in the last two innings and didn't get him in. We're not playing our best right now, so we have to grind even harder our next three games."

The Diamondbacks head to Cincinnati for a three-game series before the All-Star break.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Stephen Drew has hit three ground-rule doubles in the past two games and is now hitting .303 over the last 10 games to raise his batting average to .245.

"Stephen's going to be a terrific offensive player," manager Bob Melvin said. "This year he hasn't gotten off to the start that he would like. It seems like his at-bats are getting better and better. I've said many times, he's hitting into hard luck and so forth and has gotten a little frustrated by it."

--RHP Brandon Webb finished third in fan balloting for the last player on the National League All-Star team, as the final spot went to leading Padres RHP Chris Young.

--1B Conor Jackson ranks third in the National league in percentage of pitches taken (64.1). The Giants' Barry Bonds (68 percent) is first, and the Reds' Scott Hatteberg (66.2) is second.

--LHP Doug Davis, who snapped his major league-leading 0-for-51 slump at the plate last month, had his third hit of the season Thursday with a single to lead off the sixth inning. He is now batting .107 (3-for-28) on the year.

--OF Jeff DaVanon, rehabbing a right shoulder injury with Class A Visalia, has a five-game hitting streak and is batting .478 (11-for-23) in seven games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes late in games, when I come up to pinch-hit, I have better swings and am more selective at the plate. I don't know what the reason is. I should have the same approach all game." -- C Miguel Montero, whose first five home runs this season were in a pinch-hitting role. 

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