Mariners Point of View — The Catching Situation
There have been a lot of fan and media conversations about the Mariners catchers, specifically the use of rookie Jesus Montero. The general consensus is that he should be in the lineup as a catcher more games, and as designated hitter fewer games, because he will develop his defensive skills faster.
Mariners Manager Eric Wedge, an All-American catcher at Wichita State University who was a catcher in pro ball for nine years, thinks otherwise and is sticking to the plan to develop Jesus slowly.
Last week, Eric said, “He’s a young catcher. Every day he’s back there, he’s learning. He has so much responsibility back there, and there’s so much going on, it just takes time. He’s not ready to catch every day yet.
“He needs days off. He needs to get back behind home plate every now and again to catch, but we need to be careful with his workload. We have to make sure we stay ahead of everything for him mentally and physically. The fundamental side of everything is a day-to-day process. He’s got a lot on his plate.”
Wedge added that catching every day could have a negative impact on his development. “That was part of the equation when we brought him over here. What people need to understand is it would actually take him longer to be the total player he needs to be if he was back there every day right now. Because it would get in the way of his development.”
During his stint as manager of the Cleveland Indians (2003-2009) he was involved with the gradual development of Victor Martinez as a Major League catcher.
Eric said, “When I had Victor, I sent him down. I sent him to Triple-A for the first half of the season. He needed to do some things. He wasn’t ready. Then when he came back in the second half, you had to be careful with him. Then his first full year, you had to be careful with him. Eventually he developed into the All-Star caliber player he was.”
Through the series at Detroit, Montero, just 22 years old, has started a quarter of the Mariners first 20 games at catcher. Jeff Datz, third base coach, Eric and former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson have all spent time with Jesus, so he has plenty of support as the continues his development behind the plate.