SEATTLE -- Less than a year after hitting a new low in a career that has yet to match projections, Jesus Montero was back in the Seattle Mariners' clubhouse Thursday thankful and appreciative of getting another opportunity in the majors.
"It means a lot. It means hard work pays off," Montero said. "It's been really good. It's been awesome. My wife and my family is really happy to be here, with all the work we did together. It was hard, but I'm happy to be here."
Montero was recalled by the Mariners, giving the one-time top prospect another shot in the majors, albeit one that could be brief. He was called up ahead of Thursday's series opener against the Los Angeles Angels with Seattle set to face three left-handers to close out the schedule before the All-Star break, giving Montero, a right-handed hitter, an opportunity to show the numbers he posted at Triple-A Tacoma were no fluke.
Montero was leading the Pacific Coast League in hits, runs and RBIs. He was batting .332 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs in 84 games, all part of a resurgence that started last summer, when Montero's season abruptly ended after a spat with a scout while on a minor league rehab assignment.
"Sometimes for me you've got to go through things so (you) learn," Montero said. "That's what happened."
Montero was once viewed as one of the top young prospects in baseball. He was the centerpiece of a trade between the Mariners and Yankees that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to New York. Montero hit .260 with 15 homers in his first full major league season with the Mariners in 2012, but he had been regressing since.
Montero was suspended 50 games in 2013 as part of the Biogenesis probe and had his heated confrontation with a scout during a Class A game in Boise, Idaho, last August. Montero also struggled with his weight, reporting for spring training in 2014 significantly overweight.
Montero shed the excess weight in the offseason as part of a makeover that included his attitude and approach. The results were evident in the minors, where Montero was hitting .362 against lefties in the PCL.
A former catcher, Montero is now a first baseman and designated hitter.
"It's been fun. It's been really good. I just want to hit the ball hard and see what happens," Montero said. "This is baseball -- it's not easy, but I just want to go out there and have fun, and now I'm here."
Seattle optioned starting pitcher J.A. Happ to Class A Bakersfield, allowing the Mariners the opportunity to add another bat this weekend because Happ is not scheduled to start again until after the All-Star break. Because of his service time, Happ had to agree to the move.
The addition of Montero was part of a flurry of roster moves Seattle made on Thursday. Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush, one of Seattle's consistent performers in the bullpen this season, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left biceps tendinitis. Seattle decided to take advantage of the pending All-Star break and shut down Furbush after his left arm was sorer than expected following his relief appearance Tuesday.
Furbush said he does not believe this will be a long-term issue and that he'll be ready when he's eligible to come off the disabled list.