SEATTLE (AP) — Making his first big league start at first base and just his third appearance in the majors in nearly 13 months, Jesus Montero made strides in proving that he belongs with the Seattle Mariners.
Montero hit his first big league home run in more than a year, played error-free in the field and helped the Mariners sweep a two-game set over the San Diego Padres with a 6-1 victory Tuesday.
The former top catching prospect was suspended 50 games for his connection to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug investigation last year and began the season at Triple-A Tacoma.
"I really appreciate the opportunity that the Mariners are giving me again," Montero said. "It's really hard for me, what I was going through last year — very tough year. Little by little, was in Triple-A working hard to be here and they gave me an opportunity again, and I feel really happy that they were paying attention to me. Now I'm here.
"I just want to appreciate that opportunity that they give me again and I want to just help them, help them to win."
Montero, who said he was using a heavier bat than usual as he normally does against left-handers, showed the power that has made him a top prospect by reaching out of the zone to pull a low pitch for a two-run homer to left in the second and give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.
The two runs would prove to be enough for starter Roenis Elias, who pitched seven strong innings. Elias (6-5) allowed three hits and struck out six without a walk while facing the minimum in five innings. After failing to win a game for nearly a month, Elias has won three of his last four.
The only mistake Elias made turned into a solo home run by Rene Rivera in the second.