06/27/2012 5:05 PM ET
Miguel Montero: Staying put in Arizona
Catcher recently signed a long-term deal with D-backs
I think it is great that we -- the D-backs and myself -- agreed on a new long-term contract. I think it is great to know that I will be with the D-backs for several more years. It is a good feeling to stay with the team you came up with, the team that you have been with since the first day.
When I first joined this franchise, I never envisioned getting a new contract like this. Back then I was just thinking about trying to get to the big leagues. Once you do get to this level, and you play for a couple of years in the big leagues, then you start thinking along those lines. But back then, you are just trying to make a name for yourself.
I first earned a contract while taking part in a tryout in Venezuela in 2001. The tryout took place on Sunday, which was weird. They don't usually take place on a Sunday. It also started at 7 p.m., which was an unusual start time. The field was right next to the White House in Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez lives. Due to security reasons, it was going to be closed at 8:30 p.m., so there wasn't a lot of time.
There were about 50 guys at the tryout, and I remember that we all ran and a couple of guys hit. They asked me to hit first, and I was told I only had six swings. After that, they didn't really watch other guys hit. They sort of followed me, and I got a contract from Junior Noboa, a club scout.
At the time, I didn't know anything about the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were still a relatively new organization. The only thing I knew about them was that they had Randy Johnson.
The D-backs were the ones to give me an opportunity. They gave me an opportunity when I was 17 years old, and nobody else did. So, as we were thinking and talking about a new contract this year, I asked myself, 'Why try and go somewhere else now?'
After all, back then, nobody else wanted me, and if I would have been a free agent at the end of this year, I would be talking to some of the teams that didn't want to sign me when I wanted to play pro baseball.
What I think the D-backs liked about me as a kid was my bat. The other teams said I was too short. I guess they wanted a basketball player as a catcher. When I would walk into a tryout, they didn't pay attention to me. I guess they wanted tall guys.
When you are in the Minor Leagues, to get to the big leagues and have the opportunity to be an everyday catcher, you have to be able to hit. My thought process was always to work on my hitting. I never really cared about defense. I just wanted to be a good hitter.
In the Minor Leagues, I had the opportunity to play under a manager who was a former catcher in Bill Plummer. He taught me that catching is what is the most important thing. He told me I had the ability to hit, but that the hitting was just a plus. What I needed to work on as a young player was calling a good game and catching a good game.
Right now, I take a lot of pride in my catching. I try to be the best that I can be behind the plate. My goal is to be the best catcher in the big leagues.
I also love it here. The D-backs are my family. My family likes it here, and we love the town. We have no concerns about this place or about this franchise.
D-Backs catcher Miguel Montero recently inked a five-year contract extension. Montero, who is in his seventh season with Arizona, hit 18 homers, a club record for backstops, last season. He ranked in the top three among all National League catchers in assists and runners caught stealing.