Montero confident he'll rediscover swing this spring

Former catching prospect seeking backup first-base role with Mariners

Montero confident he'll rediscover swing this spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Last month, one-time top catching prospect Jesus Montero showed up at Mariners camp with a new body after a dramatic weight loss during the offseason.

Flash forward several weeks, and Montero, who is competing for a backup job at first base, is still trying to rediscover his old swing.

"Right now, I'm just working on the details, fine-tuning what I know. I'm really grateful to the Mariners for the opportunity they have given me to prove myself and what kind of player I am," Montero, 25, said. "As you know, baseball is a game of ups and downs, and it's up to you to stay positive. Personally, I'm feeling confident and I believe things will work out. It's early in Spring Training and God willing, it will all be fine for the regular season."

Specifically, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said there's a big loop in Montero's swing and he's going to have to address it. In the manager's words, "He's got to clean it up."

"It doesn't happen overnight," McClendon said. "Baseball players are creatures of habit. You do things a certain way every day and then you are asked to make changes and that's tough. But these are changes that he is going to have to make. I certainly think he is up to the task."

Acquired from the Yankees for Michael Pineda in 2012, Montero hit .260 with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs in 135 games that year as a rookie, but he struggled as Seattle's starting catcher in 2013. He was also sent to the Minors, hurt and suspended as part of the Biogenesis scandal. He showed up to camp overweight last year, spent most of the year at Triple-A and was suspended for the final month of the season for getting into a shouting match with a Mariners scout during an injury rehab stint.

"Listen, his rookie season in the big leagues, I think he hit close to .270 with 15 home runs and 60-something RBIs," McClendon said. "It's certainly in there. We just haven't seen it. He has to get back to it."

Montero arrived to camp this year at least 40 pounds lighter. He also arrives at the Mariners' facility each day at 6 a.m. for extra batting practice.

"I still have the same swing, same stance. Yes, there are adjustments I have to make, but it's basically the same swing I've had," Montero said. "It's not easy. Pitchers are also working hard to get me out, but I'm staying positive."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.