Montanez wants to get jump on improving 'D'



Outfielder tested only once during first major league start in center

August 17, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

DETROIT - Lou Montanez has played the game long enough to know the ball has a way of finding you at certain times. So he was hardly surprised Friday when the Detroit Tigers' first batter of the night, Curtis Granderson, hit a liner into center field.

Montanez, who was getting his first start in center with the Orioles after playing the position sparingly with Double-A Bowie, played the ball on a bounce, giving up the single. That was essentially the only time all night Montanez was tested.

"I wish some more balls would have been hit to him," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "The first one I thought should have been caught, to be honest with you, but I can understand some reluctance. It's his first time out there. But I think with more experience, he'll catch that ball."

Montanez has been working extensively with veteran outfielder Jay Payton and first base coach John Shelby, taking fly balls and playing balls off the wall.

"It's just another step of them throwing me out there and seeing what my limits are, what I can do to help the ball club," Montanez said.

Montanez was out of the lineup last night after hurting his left wrist Friday while sliding into second base in the ninth inning. Attempting to turn a double play, second baseman Placido Polanco made a throw that hit Montanez in the wrist. Polanco, who apparently felt Montanez had purposely thrown up his hands to block the throw, was ejected.

"I think he'll be all right [today]," Trembley said of Montanez, who was too sore to take batting practice. "Whether he'll play, I don't know."

Injury update

Center fielder Adam Jones, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 5, will get a CT scan on his fractured foot this week, Trembley said. ... Matt Albers (right shoulder) is getting close to throwing off the mound. ... Chris Ray (right elbow) pitched a scoreless inning for the Orioles' Gulf Coast team yesterday. ... Greg Aquino (left hamstring) will throw in a simulated game next week. ... Hayden Penn (right shoulder) will start a rehabilitation program at Triple-A Norfolk, though it's unknown whether he will pitch again this season.

More picks signed

Not long after finalizing a deal with first-round draft pick Brian Matusz on Friday, the Orioles signed 25th-round pick Xavier Lopez, a high school catcher from Puerto Rico, and Zachary Petersime, a right-handed pitcher out of Rend Lake Junior College in Illinois.

Overall, they signed 36 of their top 50 picks, including 16 of the top 17. The Orioles tried to reach deals with 44th-round pick Kevin Brady, a right-handed pitcher from Gaithersburg, but they couldn't before the midnight deadline. Instead, Brady will attend Clemson.

"I really, really wanted to sign this kid," Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said. "Financially, we got to where we needed to be. It wasn't about the money. He wanted to go to college. I really thought we were going to sign him."

Respecting Leyland

Trembley and Tigers manager Jim Leyland developed a friendship when both were managing in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization. Trembley, who was managing in Double-A in 1987 when Leyland was guiding the Pirates, said Leyland is "one of the guys that I probably try to emulate more than anybody."

"I was managing in Harrisburg in 1987 and we had some pretty good players on that club, but we didn't have a very good team," Trembley recalled. "It was the end of May and we lost 11 games in a row, all of them on the road. It wasn't a whole lot of fun. I was in a hotel room at the Red Roof Inn in Albany, N.Y., and Leyland called me.

"He said, 'Hey listen, are they playing hard?' And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Are the fundamentals being done right?' And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Don't worry about it. It will be OK.' From that point on, we went 52-28 and won the whole thing. He was a big league manager, and he took the time to recognize what it's like for somebody who is down in the trenches because he's been there."

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