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Montero ready to step up for D-backs

Montero ready to step up

PHOENIX -- Miguel Montero may not have a lot of Major League experience behind the plate, but he's ready to fill the void left at catcher by Chris Snyder.

Snyder was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday after he fractured his left testicle when a foul ball off the bat of Brewers outfielder Corey Hart hit him.

For the time being, the 24-year-old Venezuelan Montero will handle regular catching duties for the first time in his career. He has 315 at-bats spread through parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks but has never been more than a backup.

Montero developed a rapport with Randy Johnson and has been his personal catcher throughout the season. Last year, he consistently caught for Livan Hernandez. Now he must expand that rapport to the rest of the pitching staff.

Montero always sits in on the pregame strategy meetings with pitching coach Bryan Price, the day's starting pitcher and Snyder, which he said helps him build a better understanding of the pitchers.

"I'm always keeping in touch with them just to have an idea of what they like to do," Montero said. "I'm just going to do my best to handle whoever's pitching."

Manager Bob Melvin said he has been impressed with Montero's play-calling abilities, noting he has gotten better since last year, his official rookie season.

"He studies very hard," Melvin said. "Until you catch guys on a consistent basis, the most important thing is understanding what works for that particular starting pitcher. Based on the fact that he hasn't caught too many of them, he's still kind of a work in progress, but he's been preparing much better and he's very serious about the opportunity he's getting right now."

Montero has a .985 career fielding percentage, but has thrown out just one of 16 runners trying to steal on the season and has an 18 percent career success rate.

"I don't think there's any doubt he can be an everyday catcher," Melvin said. "With Snydes down, this is a great opportunity for him to get some consistent at-bats and show what he's got to offer. If you look at catching prospects across the league, I think he rates right up there. He just hasn't had the opportunity because of how much Chris has played."

Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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