Montero finally raking in rewards at the plate
Mariners rookie had been pressing during a rough six-week stretch
KANSAS CITY -- Jesus Montero is enjoying an uptick in his offense as much as any of his teammates in the last few games, and it's a much-welcomed breakthrough for the Mariners rookie after a tough six-week stretch.
From June 1 to July 14, Montero hit .216 (22-for-102) with just one home run, three doubles, one RBI and four runs despite batting in the heart of Seattle's lineup for much of that stretch. But in his last three games going into Wednesday night's contest with the Royals, Montero was 6-for-12 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs.
Montero hit the ball very hard his first three at-bats in Tuesday's 9-6 win, ripping an RBI double to center in the first, an RBI single to left in the second and a sharp single to left again in the fourth. The Royals intentionally walked him in the fifth with two outs and a runner on third rather than give him another run-scoring opportunity.
This is more of the Montero the Mariners were expecting after trading Michael Pineda for the top 22-year-prospect from the Yankees. And it's more of the Montero he expects from himself. But perhaps it's those high expectations themselves that have led to some of the struggles as the youngster has pressed to produce in this first season in Seattle.
"He's a good hitter," manager Eric Wedge said. "But sometimes good hitters, especially young hitters, feel like they can hit everything. You still have to have command of the hitting zone and lay off pitches that are tough to hit."
Montero might finally be getting that message.
"I just have to be calm and try to see good pitches, because sometimes I get too happy, too jumpy, and that's what gets me out," Montero said. "It's hard, but I've tried to stay calm all the time, because I want to do good every single time. But it's not easy."
It hasn't hurt that the Mariners have seen a steady diet of left-handers the last three games. For the season, Montero is batting .355 vs. lefties and .204 against right-handers. He's also batting .297 on the road compared to .206 at Safeco Field.
But whatever the factors, it had been awhile since Montero contributed and the rookie sounded relieved to turn that around.
"It means a lot for me because for a long time I didn't have an RBI," he said. "It was getting crazy. But I just tried to do my work and routines and now I'm feeling better."
Gutierrez still has headaches after concussion
KANSAS CITY -- Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez said on Wednesday that he's still suffering headaches nearly three weeks after sustaining a concussion on a pickoff throw by Boston's Franklin Morales that hit Gutierrez in the ear as he went back to first base.
Gutierrez is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list as soon as he's ready, but he just took batting practice for the first time on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium and the team remains unsure how soon he'll be able to begin a Minor League rehab stint.
"Sometimes when I wake up or am doing exercises or whatever, they come in different circumstances," he said. "I'm getting better every day, but until these go away I don't think I can do anything else. I hope they go away soon."
Gutierrez had already missed the first 63 games of this season due to a partially torn pectoral muscle, then sustained the concussion in his 13th game back.
Gutierrez said the 105-degree heat on Wednesday wasn't making things easier for his headaches, but he was drinking lots of fluids and doing everything he could to deal with the weather as well.
"He's been doing a lot of work and still has some things to do," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's feeling better, but still has some days that are better than others. So we don't have a firm plan to send him out just yet. And this heat doesn't help us much, to be honest."
Delabar gets extended stay in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY -- Reliever Steve Delabar is getting used to being sent up and down this season by the Mariners, but even he wasn't quite ready for his quick return on Wednesday.
Delabar hadn't even left Kansas City after being optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to create a roster opening for starter Blake Beavan, when Delabar received word to not catch his scheduled flight out on Wednesday morning.
By the afternoon, Delabar was back with the Mariners after fellow reliever Charlie Furbush was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained triceps muscle.
"It was a strange 24 hours," said Delabar, who has been optioned to Tacoma three times this season. "The good thing was my parents had flown in [from Kentucky] and I got to spend the whole day with them. It was my birthday. So it was kind of bittersweet that they made the move like that, but I did get to spend quality time with them and it was a good day."
Delabar, who was out of baseball before last season and teaching at a school in Kentucky, has a pretty good perspective on things. He'd obviously like to find a permanent spot with the Mariners, but as a player with options he can be sent up and down without risking a waiver claim this season.
Delabar also has used his time in the Minors to work on improving his slider, knowing he needs another out pitch to go along with his 96-mph fastball. But there wasn't time to work on anything on this demotion, given it lasted less than 24 hours.
"It's a crazy business, but this is what we love to do," he said. "We know how it works and we make the most of it."
Players who are optioned to the Minors normally can't be recalled for 10 days, unless there is an injury that creates an opening.
Mike Carp (strained shoulder) didn't play in Tuesday's game in Tacoma, but continues on his Triple-A rehab assignment. The first baseman/DH has hit safely in six of 10 games, batting .220 (9-for-41) with four doubles, one home run, seven RBIs, six walks and five runs.
"He's getting close, but we don't have a firm plan on him yet," Wedge said.
Reliever Stephen Pryor (strained groin) is also on a rehab stint with Tacoma, where he's thrown two hitless innings with two walks in two appearances.
When Justin Smoak homered in the first inning on Monday and Tuesday, it was the seventh time in his career he's gone deep in back-to-back games, but just the second time both came hitting right-handed. The first baseman hit home runs in three straight games in April last season.