BRONX, N.Y. — If Jesus Montero is somehow ever able to live up to the unfathomable amount of hype around him, today could turn out to be more than just a 6-4 New York Yankees victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the third at-bat of just his second big league game and first at Yankee Stadium after a long awaited promotion from Triple-A Scranton, the 21-year-old laced a single to left field off of Ricky Romero in an otherwise uneventful sixth inning. What seemed like a routine play to the untrained eye will actually go down in the books as Montero’s first Major League hit.
The ball was eventually thrown into the dugout, and it currently sits on the top of the Venezuelan-born catcher’s locker, already authenticated with a small Major League Baseball hologram. The ball, Montero says, will be going to his mother, who was at the game. She will then give it to Montero’s father, who was watching from home in Venezuela.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” said Montero of getting the baseball.
“It’s for my dad. Many, many years ago, I told him that he was going to see me one day on TV. And he saw me on TV a few days ago and was crying. It’s going to be a big, big present for him.”
Montero told me after the game that, given the expectations that have been placed on him, it was a relief to get his first hit out of the way, albeit in just his second game.
“I was pretty excited, pretty happy to be on first base; not because of a walk or anything else, it was for a base hit,” said Montero, who was swarmed by reporters after the game.
“Thank God that I hit the ball well…I’m really happy. Right in the moment, I was thinking about ‘Look at the signs, look at third base.'”
Although they’ve only been sharing the same uniform for the last three days, Montero’s new Yankees teammates seemed genuinely excited for him. Count veteran outfielder Andruw Jones among them.
“It’s always special when guys get their first hit in the major leagues,” Jones told me.
“He’s something special. He’s a good hitter, he’s always going to hit. It’s more adjusting to the major leagues than anything for him. They brought him here to see what he can do. We were all excited for him, especially with winning the game.”
Montero, in an exclusive pre-game chat with the Democrat, said that while he’d obviously like to play in the postseason, he understands that it isn’t his decision and just wants to help the team win now any way he can. He did, however, say that he’s hoping to get behind the plate for a few games before the season is over.
“They’re going to give me an opportunity, but I don’t know when,” Montero said.
“I’m going to try to do my best behind the plate and help my pitchers to win.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com