SEATTLE (AP) - Former top prospect Jesus Montero was recalled by the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, his first stint in the majors since a 50-game suspension after being connected to baseball's Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug investigation.
Seattle gave Montero another chance in the majors after outfielder Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. Montero was one of the limited choices Seattle had at the Triple-A level for a short-term bat.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said Montero would be mostly used against left-handed pitchers and as a designated hitter, but is an option to play in the field at first base.
"I think he's trying to get things back together. He's been working hard and he's actually been swinging the bat better than the numbers indicated down there," McClendon said. "For me he was the logical choice. ... It made sense to bring this young man and give him an opportunity."
Montero was the centerpiece of a trade before the 2012 season that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to New York and brought Montero to Seattle. He was a top prospect in the Yankees organization because of his potential as a hitter but has not matched that expectation in Seattle.
In his time with the Mariners, Montero is hitting .252 with 18 homers and 71 RBIs in 164 career games. All of those came before Montero was suspended. He was sent down to the minors last season when he was hitting just .208 and that was followed by the suspension and knee surgery to repair torn meniscus.
He didn't endear himself to McClendon and Seattle's new coaching staff after showing up for spring training out of shape. He apologized when he arrived at spring training for his suspension, but being out of shape put him behind from the start.
Montero said cardio work has been a big part of his regime in the minors, along with learning first base. Montero was hitting .270 with eight homers and 15 doubles at Triple-A, although he had just one homer in his past month.
"I feel great to be here. I feel like I've earned it," Montero said. "I feel like I learned something. Now I want to be here forever."