Mariners call up Montero, option Happ

Mariners call up Montero, option Happ

SEATTLE -- Looking to bolster an offense that has disappointed in the first half, the Mariners recalled first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Montero from Triple-A Tacoma prior to Thursday night's series opener with the Angels at Safeco Field.

Veteran left-hander J.A. Happ was optioned to Class A Advanced Bakersfield. Happ started Wednesday's game against the Tigers and won't be needed again until after the All-Star break, thus allowing his temporary move to the Minors. He must spend a minimum of 10 days in the Minors, which makes him available to return by the third game after the break.

"It means a lot," Montero said of his first return to the Majors since losing about 40 pounds and rededicating himself to the game last offseason. "It means hard work pays off. It's been really good. It's been awesome. My wife and family are really happy, too, just to be here. To put all the work we did together, it was hard, but I'm happy to be here and we just want to have fun here, too."

Montero, 25, has hit .332/.370/.529 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs in 84 games with Tacoma this year. The onetime top catching prospect of the Yankees has had a disappointing Major League career to date, but he has impressed the Mariners with his changed attitude since being suspended by the team for the final month last season after an altercation with a scout during a Minor League rehab game with Class A Short Season Everett.

Montero appeared in six games for Seattle last season, batting .235 with one home run. He'll likely play primarily designated hitter against left-handed pitchers, a needed role in the short term as Seattle faces left-handed starters in the final three games of the Angels series prior to the All-Star break.

Montero said he's improved defensively at first base and has felt better all season at his lower playing weight.

"All the work I put in the offseason made it a lot better to play every single day," he said. "I was telling [Tacoma manager Pat Listach] that I want to play every day. I didn't want any days off. He put that together and it was working for him and for me."

How much playing time he'll get in Seattle remains to be seen, with manager Lloyd McClendon indicating Montero's primary role would likely be against left-handers.

Montero said he just wants to keep the same approach that has been working for him.

"I just want to hit the ball hard and see what happens," he said. "This is baseball and it's not easy, but I just want to go out there to have fun and help the team now that I'm here."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.