MLB:Arizona Diamondbacks Catcher Miguel Montero
As the Arizona Diamondbacks begin their second week of Spring Training let’s take a look at the player that needs to have a “bounce” back season in order for this team to get past its 81-81 “averageness”; that player is Miguel Montero. Last year Montero had his least productive season since becoming the full-time catcher for the Diamondbacks. In 2013 he hit just .230 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI, struck-out 110 times and grounded into 18 double plays. It was also his worst defensive season. He led the NL in passed balls with nine and made five errors.
In May 2012 Montero signed a five year, $60 million dollar contract extension which took him through the 2017 season. At the time the move seemed great for the Diamondbacks, because they were able to lock up one of baseball’s best catchers. Montero was one of the best run producers at the position, driving in 85+ runs in 2011 and 2012. And, he had developed into one of the best defensive catchers, throwing out base runners at one of the best rates in baseball. He was also the leader of the team, something that the Diamondbacks desperately needed. Make no mistake, Montero deserved the big contract.
Last year was another story. Montero was in a slump that started in May and lasted until the end of the season. He also had various injuries that saw him on the DL for a lot of the season. Montero dealt with a lower back strain all season and in October had surgery to clean out an infection on his left index finger. Those issues limited him to only 116 games for 2013.
To start the 2013 season Montero was hitting above .300, but things went downhill starting in May. His average dropped to .180 and he started to look unsettled at the plate. He had a tendency to swing for the fences during many of his at-bats. Some might say he lost his confidence.
When Montero came off the DL in late August of last year it looked like things might be turning around. He hit .321 in the first seven games he was back, but by then there was no chance that the Diamondbacks would make the playoffs. Then he was dealt another set-back with his finger injury.
A bounce back year from Montero in 2014 will be one of the biggest keys for the Diamondbacks to get over the mediocrity and make the postseason. He has been working with new hitting coach Turner Ward in the off-season. Ward has been working with Montero to redefine his swing and to avoid looking for a homerun in every at-bat.
We will see if that hard work pays off and if it does, we should see Montero return to his 2011 and 2012 season form. As long as he stays healthy, I predict a bounce back season for Montero and look forward to him driving in 85+ runs once again and become a force in this year’s Diamondbacks lineup.
I hope to see you at Salt River Fields for Spring Training.
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