Mariners catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero has been playing winter ball in Venezuela, but he’s been sidelined for more than a week after getting into a minor car accident that left him with lacerated knuckles.
Mariners minor league coordinator Chris Gwynn told Greg Johns of MLB.com that Montero is expected to be fine, but his winter league participation is on hold “until he gets the stitches out.”
Johns notes that Montero has been playing mostly first base and designated hitter in Venezuela, which is a sign that his days behind the plate are done following years of defensive struggles. That will put even more pressure on Montero to produce offensively after hitting just .258 with a .699 OPS through 182 career games.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.