DENVER -- As the Mariners open their first Interleague series in Denver, rookie catcher Jesus Montero is out of the lineup for the second day in a row as manager Eric Wedge gives him a break following a busy stretch carrying the bulk of the catching work with Miguel Olivo on the disabled list.
"He needs it," Wedge said. "We've talked about it. He's just not ready to play every day. We're going to get him in there as much as we can, but he has a lot to process mentally. We're asking a lot of him. We don't have the DH spot available, and he needs a couple days off behind the plate."
After starting the season with an eight-game hitting streak, setting a .370 (10-for-27) pace, Montero has cooled considerably, enduring a 3-for-30 stretch over his past nine games, including a pair of uncharacteristically ugly strikeouts in Thursday's 11-inning loss to the Indians after entering the game as a pinch-hitter.
"That's a red flag," Wedge said of Montero's swings out of the strike zone. "It just tells you that mentally he's not in a place where he needs to be right now, which is not uncommon for a young player, especially a young player that you're giving a lot of responsibility to, that you're throwing in the middle of the lineup, because he's done a nice job for you. So to give him a couple days off is a healthy thing right now. We all know he's going to be a heck of a player, but he has a lot to learn. He has lot that he has to do from day to day to get to that point."
Montero, 22, made his Major League debut last year with the Yankees and hit .328 (20-for-61) in 18 September games, including three starts behind the dish and 14 as a DH. He was 2-for-2 with an RBI and one run scored in the Division Series against the Tigers.
Wedge stressed that the challenge of breaking into the big leagues is even more demanding for a catcher.
"You've just got so much responsibility back there, you've got so much that you've got to work through mentally, whether it be in your preparation or your process throughout the course of a ballgame, your relationship with everybody involved," Wedge said. "It's so much more than any other position."
Olivo declares himself ready for rehab work
DENVER -- In the final leg of a long road trip, Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo joined his teammates and lifted their spirits Friday, working out with the team at Coors Field in preparation for a Minor League rehab assignment.
Olivo has been on the disabled list with a strained right groin since May 1, but after working out with the Triple-A club in Tacoma at the beginning of the week, he is close to returning to game action.
"Close? I'm ready," Olivo said before the series opener with the Rockies. "They told me to come here [so they could] see me and [I could] show I'm ready. I'm not the manager or the GM. Whatever they say to do, I just do it."
The Mariners are 5-11 without Olivo, and his teammates greeted him joyously in the Coors Field clubhouse.
"It's my team," Olivo said regarding a frustrating 1-6 trip through New York, Boston and Cleveland. "I have feeling for the team, too. They're my friends. It's a tough road trip. I'm back. I'm only one person, but I'll try to do my best. I'm happy to see my teammates. I hope I bring good luck for them."
After two days in Tacoma, hitting and catching bullpens while the Mariners were in Boston, Olivo returned to Seattle for additional workouts while the team was in Cleveland. Going through regular baseball drills with the Mariners in Denver is the final hurdle before he can begin playing games in the Minors.
"He's going to go through everything here the next couple days, and I'm assuming everything will go well," manager Eric Wedge said, noting that Olivo had tried to talk him into activating him on the telephone before coming to Denver. "We'll get him out, and he'll go back to catching and DH for a short period of time, then we'll get him back up here. He feels good."
Overworked bullpen out of sync on road trip
DENVER -- Admitting his bullpen is "considerably" up in the air toward the end of a long road trip that has seen relievers pitch more than their share of innings, manager Eric Wedge offered an inventory of a bullpen that has posted a 3.97 ERA through the season's first 40 games.
The Mariners led 4-0 in the middle of the seventh Thursday, but lost the game 6-5 in 11 innings. They got three innings of scoreless relief from three relievers, but two others accounted for five runs. After the Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the 11th, closer Brandon League blew his third save in 11 chances this season, allowing a pair of runs to take the loss.
"He was just out of sync yesterday," Wedge said. "His delivery was out of sync and he just wasn't able to find it. He battled and worked as hard as he could to try and get through it, but he just wasn't himself yesterday."
The Indians earlier had tied the game in the bottom of the eighth when Jose Lopez launched a three-run homer off right-handed reliever Steve Delabar, his third allowed in 18 1/3 innings this season.
"He needs to do a better job against right-handers," Wedge said. "He needs to do a better job of keeping the ball away and making sure the ball ends up where he wants it to end up, whether it be his secondary stuff or whether it be his fastball in particular. He's been dominant against left-handers, which is why he was in the game yesterday. You're not going to do much better than .043 coming into the game. But he's been decent against right-handers, with the exception of the big ball. More times than not that's about driving the ball where you want, driving it to home plate and making sure it ends up there."
Left-hander Lucas Luetge has been phenomenal, matching a club record by starting his career with 15 appearances and no earned runs.
"I feel like [Charlie] Furbush and Luetge have done a nice job for the most part," Wedge said. "I really felt good about [Tom] Wilhemsen's two hitters yesterday. I felt like that was his old self. [Shawn] Kelley's going to continue to get more innings.
"I think that everybody would agree, [Hisashi] Iwakuma has saved our bullpen three or four times now out of four outings, or four times out of five outings," Wedge said of the right-hander's four innings of relief Wednesday. "That's his role, because when you do that, the effect it has on your bullpen is really a week. If you blow through your bullpen, it'll take you a good five or six days to catch up, and you don't want to be playing catch-up in the bullpen and trying to win games like that."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.