05/20/12 3:57 PM ET
Montero breaks out after couple days off
By Owen Perkins / MLB.com
"I think a couple days off helped him as much mentally as anything else," manager Eric Wedge said. "He did a better job behind the plate, did a better job offensively, and stayed on the ball better. I know there's a lot of talk about this guy, and rightfully so, but he's still a 22-year-old player that we need to make sure that we nurture along and try to take care of him as best as we can."
After starting the season with an eight-game hitting streak during which he hit .370 (10-for-27), Montero was mired in a 3-for-30 stretch over his last nine games entering Saturday's tilt. In his first at-bat after two days off, he drew a walk on a borderline pitch, showing the patience necessary as a first step in setting himself straight at the plate.
"When you're in a slump, when you're team's going a little bit bad, you need to slow down everything and see more pitches," Montero said. "That's what I tried [Saturday]. Try to relax and have fun and hit the good pitches."
Wedge knows his role as manager of a developing young team means employing his own kind of patience as he ushers promising players toward success, and his handling of Montero, who's received the lion's share of the catching duties since Miguel Olivo went on the disabled list May 1, has helped keep the prospect grounded and focused.
"We've had a lot of conversations here, because that's where we are right now," Wedge said. "Early on you've got to have a lot more conversations, whether it be with small groups or individuals. As they understand it better and get deeper into their careers and have a better understanding of what they need to do to be successful, then those conversations become fewer and fewer and far between. Right now we're right in the thick of it."
Montero has taken the highs and lows of his season in stride, and he's an eager listener to advice from his coaching staff. Like many Mariners in the lineup, hitting at Coors Field has offered a confidence boost, as Seattle has outhit the Rockies 22-7 in the first two games of the set.
"I feel good," Montero said. "I was seeing the ball good [Saturday], swinging hard, trying to make hard contact and think about how to find those base hits to be more confident and be better every day and to help the team too."
Seager developing into offensive threat
DENVER -- In his first full year in the Majors, Kyle Seager has emerged as a legitimate, middle-of-the-lineup weapon for the Mariners, forcing other teams to take note.
"I think they already do," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's up there ready to hit. He's a young hitter, still learning, but I think he has a good feel for his hitting zone, and he's getting a better feel for the strike zone."
Seager is 5-for-7 in the first two games of the series at Colorado with a homer, a triple, a walk, and five RBIs, and he brings a four-game hitting streak into Sunday's finale. At .292 with 11 doubles, five homers and a team-high 26 RBIs, he's on pace to knock on the door of the five Mariners with 40-doubles, 20 homers, and 100 RBIs in a single season, potentially joining Edgar Martinez (four times), Ken Griffey Jr., Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson and Alex Rodriguez.
"He's confident," Wedge said. "He's not afraid to take some chances up there, and in order to be a good hitter up here, you've got to be willing to do that. He's had a lot of big hits in a lot of key situations for us."
Performing in the clutch has been key for Seager, who is tied for first in the American League entering play Sunday with 15 two-out RBIs.
"I feel comfortable in there," Seager said after going 3-for-4 on Saturday. "I'm just trying to put together good at bats."
Ryan feeling good about simplified swing
DENVER -- Count Brendan Ryan among the Mariners who have seen their fortunes improve at Coors Field. After struggling at the plate, the shortstop saw his average climb 12 points Saturday with a pair of hits and two runs.
"That [fourth-inning] triple was big for us," manager Eric Wedge said of Ryan. "A ball hit the other way. ... He looks like he's in a better position to hit and give himself more of a chance up there."
For Ryan, a key has been to keep himself from the endless tinkering with his stance and swing and get back to the feeling he remembers from 2009.
"It's the first time in a while I've felt good in the box, regardless of getting a couple hits," Ryan said. "I'd gone to some pregame work that I'd used [in the past]. I thought about '09 and what I was doing then. I went through the day like it was a 2009 game."
Ryan has experimented with squatting in his stance, and has had a toe tap that he has put in and taken out, often finding that getting the timing right against a variety of windups can turn his toe tap into more of a stutter step.
"It's amazing how one thing can get out of whack and it completely ruins the chain of everything leading up to the attempt at the pitch," Ryan said. "If your foot's not down and you're not ready, then your hands will never get loaded. Then there's a domino [effect].
"You watch these good hitters and it's like they have cinder blocks for feet, how heavy they seem in the box. That means their eyes are going to work that much better. I felt like I saw the ball better [Saturday]."
Ryan seems to have heeded Wedge's advice to simplify his approach at the plate, taking a cue from teammate Kyle Seager, who is hitting .292 from the cleanup spot.
"I watch Kyle on deck and watch his swings during the game," Ryan said. "What's more simple than that? He's so simple, and it's showing. I've had a lot of sleepless nights so far in the season, but hopefully we're on the way up."
Wedge reunites with family in Colorado
DENVER -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge had a Rocky Mountain reunion over the weekend, joined by 16 members of his family as he returned to Colorado to face the team that picked him in the second round of the 1992 expansion Draft.
"My mom and dad drove in from Fort Wayne," Wedge said. "That's a good three-dayer there. My brother and his wife and four kids drove up from Wichita, so that's about eight hours. And Kate and the kids and the babysitter flew in from Seattle."
Wedge played one of his four big league seasons for the Rockies, starting and finishing his career in Boston before cutting it short after eight surgeries. Though he only played nine games with the Rockies, trips back to Colorado rekindle the good experience he had with the club in its infancy.
"The inaugural year was a lot of fun," Wedge said. "I was just here that first year and the spring of the second year. But the electricity at Mile High and the city itself was incredible. The excitement of the fans and the community, and really the region at that point in time.
"All us players in the inaugural Draft were coming from different organizations and really not knowing each other. In that clubhouse with basically 26 different bags from 26 different teams. It was a neat experience to go through."
With 39 games in his big league career, Wedge spent more time on the DL than on the active roster, so it caught him off guard to be drafted by the Rockies in the first place.
"I was surprised, because my arm was in a sling -- shocker," Wedge recalled. "I just had major surgery on my elbow, and I think everybody thought I was safe, but they still picked me. I was shocked, surprised. It changes your life, takes you on a whole new journey, a whole different path."
Wedge is one of two managers to emerge from the Rockies inaugural roster, joining Joe Girardi as big league skippers who trace their roots back to the Mile High City.
"I guess you don't bet against anything," Wedge said. "That definitely wasn't on our minds at that point in time. He was a little bit older than me. He was really good to me, and we had a nice relationship and still do to this day."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.