After a dreadful 2013 season, one that saw him get demoted to the minor leagues, undergo knee surgery and serve a 50-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, Jesus Montero heads into spring training with much to prove.
That wasn't lost on GM Jack Zduriencik, as he explained to The News Tribune's Bob Dutton:
He’s been through too much the last year and he has too much to prove to all of us, for him to be someone you’re banking on.
Does he have the potential to be an impact offensive player? I think he does…We didn’t see that last year. I think we’re all very curious to see what Jesus Montero is when he rolls into spring training.
When he did arrive in camp, Montero decided to address the media in an attempt to put 2013 behind him.
“I want to apologize to the whole organization and all of my teammates for what I did last year. I made a big bad mistake last year. I don’t know what I was thinking. But I’m here right now, in this new year, to be better and to help my teammates to win.
I’ve got to prove to myself, first of all, that I have to be better. I want to be on the team again. I want to be big leagues. Then I have to prove (myself) to my family and to the team.
Montero certainly said the right things, and kudos to him for taking responsibility for, as he calls it, "a big, bad mistake." But claiming to want to be better and then showing up out of shape and noticeably overweight, sends mixed signals.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words—and by his own admission, Montero didn't see much action this winter outside of 22 games in the Venezuelan Winter League:
“I gained a lot of weight in my country. So, now, I’m on a program to lose weight. I’m working really hard to get my weight back. I wasn’t doing nothing (after finishing winter ball), just eating.”
That certainly doesn't sound like something you'd expect to hear from someone hellbent on making the club out of spring training, does it?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Montero's work ethic and maturity have come into question. Back in 2011, a 21-year-old Montero was bored playing at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, according to a report by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:
Montero's biggest obstacle to success isn't major league breaking balls, making the transition from catcher to first base or extra pounds on his frame.
It's Jesus Montero.
The 24-year-old needs to stop believing the considerable hype that surrounded him years ago, as he can no longer rest on his considerable natural talent to carry him to success.
It's time for Montero to grow up, put in the work and re-establish himself as a youngster who can be a part of Seattle's future.
Until he gets over himself, that's never going to happen.