Montero happy with heavy workload behind plate

Montero happy with heavy workload behind plate

Montero happy with heavy workload behind plate
SAN DIEGO -- When D-backs manager Kirk Gibson told catcher Miguel Montero he was going to give him a day off during last week's series in Los Angeles, his star backstop was, well, devastated.

"I was going to give him the day off. ... He said, 'Oh, please don't do that. Please don't do that to me,'" Gibson said.

For Montero, who has played more games (262) over the past two seasons than any other National League catcher, there's nothing worse than sitting out.

"I love to play. Something I don't like to do is sit and watch a baseball game," Montero said. "So I work hard in the offseason just to be able to stay in good shape, be able to feel strong enough to be in the field every day. And I do take a lot of pride. I was benched for 2 1/2 years in the Major Leagues, so I gotta make up for those two years."

Montero, 28, played a career-high 140 games in 2011, a number he's in position to reach again this year, having played 122 including Sunday's game. His 1,025 innings caught are the most in the National League, and mark his second straight season of 1,000-plus innings behind the plate. Day games after late games -- like on Sunday -- are normally the territory of a backup catcher, but even in mid-September, Montero is in the lineup and darned happy about it.

"I'm not going to lie, I don't feel tired. I feel good," Montero said. "I feel like I'm swinging the bat better. I feel like I'm catching better than early in the year, so it is what it is, I love to play."

The key to doing that, he believes, is hard work in the offseason and even the first half of the regular season, which allows his body to hold up down the stretch.

"Early in the season I work really hard weight-room wise. I work really hard trying to stay on top of my physical condition," Montero said. "I try to stay as strong as possible. And when it comes to the second half, I try to push it back a little bit. Normally I do four, five days working out early, but at this point, I might do just twice a week."

"His program after the game, what he does for recovery is on top of things," Gibson said. "He takes care of himself. We believe in certain things that you like to do to start the recovery process for the next day, and he's really diligent about that. If I thought he as jeopardizing his health or long-term ability to play, I would rest him."

Montero's play certainly doesn't seem to be affected by his heavy workload. Since 2009, the Venezuela native is second among National League catchers in homers (57), doubles (103), RBIs (262), and slugging percentage (.461). He's also doing it defensively. His 63 runners caught stealing since 2011 is tops in the National League, while his four passed balls this season are the fewest among all Major League catchers who have caught more than 100 games.

If he has his way, Montero will be putting up numbers like that day in and day out for a very long time.

"I'm a believer that if you prepare yourself good, you're going to be good for a long time. Look at Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge, he always prepared himself really good. He didn't retire -- they retired him," Montero said. "Because he was in good shape to keep playing. Probably his bat speed wasn't the same, but that's normal, he's 40 years old. But he caught more than anybody in baseball.

"I want to catch more than anybody in baseball."