When Francisco Cervelli fouled that ball off his foot landing himself on the DL for at least a month, the backup catching job became Jesus Montero‘s to loose. Unfortunately for the youngster the pressure got to him. He started slumping at the plate and that carried over to his defense and the Yankees had no choice but to start him in Triple-A.
The Yankees didn’t want to do this. Early in spring they talked only about reasons why coming off the bench in the major leagues would be beneficial to him. It was when he really started struggling that they mentioned Gustavo Molina as a possibility. They didn’t want Molina to make the team though which should be obvious as Russell Martin is the only catcher in baseball to have played every defensive inning for his team.
The Yankees really had no choice though as Montero was clearly putting too much pressure on himself and sent him to Triple-A Scranton. Last season, when he really had no chance to make the team out of spring training, Montero slumped and struggled with what he perceived as failure for not making the team. It took him a while to get things going. So this season finally with a real shot to make the team the same thing could have happened. Montero could have sulked and continued his preseason struggles, but instead the opposite has happened.
Through four games this season Montero is tearing the cover off the ball. He is hitting .450 with a whopping .650 slugging percentage. It’s obviously too small a sample size to draw any strong conclusions from, but it appears that Montero has gone back down to the minors this time with the proper mindset. Should he continue that it will only be a matter of time before he is back in the Bronx.
When that exactly will be is hard to tell. Martin is starting off his own season in fine fashion and Cervelli will be back from his injury in probably 2-4 more weeks. As long as Martin is playing this well there is no chance that somebody other than Cervelli will be the backup when he gets back.
So Montero will eventually get his chance, but it doesn’t appear to be coming very soon. If his bat stays hot all year though it will be next to impossible for the Yankees to deny him for too long. It is important for him to keep that bat in order though. So far that hasn’t been a problem.