Montero's hard work paying off with power surge

Montero's hard work paying off with power surge

Montero's hard work paying off with power surge
SEATTLE -- Jesus Montero moved into a tie with Kyle Seager for the Mariners' home run lead on Sunday with his 15th of the season and is challenging to become the first rookie to lead the club in long balls since first baseman Alvin Davis in 1984.

With a month left in the season, Montero already is tied for the sixth-most home runs by a Mariners rookie, though well shy of Davis' club record of 27.

Interestingly, three of Montero's mashes have come against the Angels' Jered Weaver, one of the toughest right-handers in the American League.

Montero hit two home runs against Weaver in their first meeting this season last month in Anaheim when Seattle handed the three-time All-Star just his second loss of the season, then went deep again Sunday in the Mariners' 2-1 win.

Montero also hit a home run against Weaver last year while with the Yankees and is now 5-for-9 with four home runs in three games against him.

The only players with more home runs against Weaver in their careers are the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez (five in 24 at-bats) and Curtis Granderson (five in 25 at-bats). Two other players are tied with Montero with four home runs -- Raul Ibanez in 30 at-bats and Hank Blalock in 33 at-bats.

Both times Montero faced Weaver this year, he said he just tried to stay up the middle against Weaver's somewhat funky delivery.

"He throws across his body," Montero said. "He's tough. He's got good pitches. I just got lucky, I think."

What makes it all the more interesting is Montero normally hits left-handers (.324/.372/.527) much better than righties (.230/.263/.355). But manager Eric Wedge said he's seen improvement in that regard.

"He's been working in batting practice to be a little more consistent in his approach, and I think that's helped him see the ball better and lay off breaking balls a little better from right-handers," Wedge said. "When he does that, it gives him a better opportunity to get a better pitch to hit, and I think that's what you've seen.

"He's still young. It's his first full year in the big leagues. He's 22, so he'll continue to have some trials, but recognizing the ball and seeing the ball and not being in a hurry, all that pays off for you."