After last Friday night’s win over the Colorado Rockies, catcher Miguel Montero slowly approached his locker in a corner of the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse and saw a throng.
A group of reporters descended and patiently waited while Montero toweled off from his shower and dressed. Then, he casually raised his head and words seem to bounce off the ceiling, “geez, I’m tired.”
With about seven weeks left in the season, Montero, indeed, is beginning to show signs of wear and tear. For that reason, his work load will be cut and the National League All-Star will catch less innings.
“There’s no reason to push (Montero) at this point,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It’s not like he’s had 10 days off in a row. It’s more of a rotation now.”
That would mean Gibson will use Tuffy Gosewisch more in a supportive role than a player who appears occasionally in a game. Gosewisch started the final two games of the recent Colorado series and is expected to have more playing time over the final seven weeks of the season.
“(Gosewisch) earned more playing time,” Gibson said. "He’s played sporadically this season but he’s done a great job of staying ready. He’s gained confidence and you can see that.”
For the record, Montero has been among major league leaders in games played and innings caught for a back-stop. He’s caught more than 1,000 innings in each of the past two seasons and is on his way to adding a third straight in 2014. Through his 100 games behind the plate thus far, Montero has caught 885.2 innings (tops in the majors), leads major league catchers in RBIs and second in games played.
For the current season, Montero has appeared in 102 of the 116 Arizona games to date and is on record to eclipse career marks in home runs and RBIs.
Montero set a personal best in round-trippers when he slammed 18 in 2001 and RBIs with 88 in 2012.
Coming into the Cleveland series, beginning Tuesday night, the 30-year-old native of Venezuela has 12 homers and knocked in 62 runs. With Paul Goldschmidt (69 RBIs) sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken left hand, Montero has an opportunity to lead the Diamondbacks in RBIs for 2014.
In an attempt to address Montero’s $60 million signed, preserve his energy and assure durability, Gibson went out of his way to make a promise.
Going forward, he said, “Ill be pro-active in the way I use my players.”
THE LONG WAY BACK
Shortstop Chris Owings has been slow to recover from a left shoulder strain.
On the disabled list since June 26, Gibson told reporters last week that, because of his injury, Owings has compromised on his swing. As a result, the injury became aggravated and heightened. While his progress is slow, Gibson said Owings’ return is remains uncertain.
In 72 games this far, Owings is hitting .277 with 15 doubles, six home runs and 21 RBIs. At the time of his injury, Owings led National League rookies in several offensive categories.
In the meantime, shortstop Didi Gregorius has elevated his game to the point where Gibson said he is a better player than when he started the season Triple-A Reno.
“Sure, he was disappointed not to make the team out of spring training but he went to the minors with a great attitude,” Gibson said. “We pointed out some things which needed to be addressed and he responded. He played well down there and has played even better up here.”
In his last 13 games, Gregorius, a native of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, his hit .326 (14-for-43). Since his recall from Reno on June 3, he is hitting .310 in 57 games.
BY THE NUMBERS
Coming into their current 10-game road trip to Cleveland, Miami and Washington, the Diamondbacks are 49-67 after 116 games.
Last season after 116 games, they were 61-57 and defeated Baltimore, 7-6 on Aug. 12.