Jesus Montero makes MLB debut

Updated: September 2, 2011, 9:43 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

BOSTON --- With New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman leading the hype, comparing Jesus Montero as a hitter to Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, the Yankees' top position prospect made a hitless debut in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Red Sox.

Montero, who batted seventh as the DH, went 0-for-4 and left six runners on base, but did score the go-ahead run in the win. In his first at-bat of his career, he left the bases loaded by striking out against Jon Lester.

"After the first [at-bat] I was like, 'I'm a little nervous,'" Montero said. "But after the first one everything was normal."

In the seventh, Montero reached base for the first time when Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves grazed his jersey with an inside pitch. Montero later scored on Russell Martin's two-run double.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi stuck with his debutant against the right-handed Aceves, after Montero had flown out to end the third with a man on. Montero grounded out to finish the fifth with two Yankees on base.

"It means a lot to me," Montero said of not being pinch-hit for. "It means he knows who I am."

With family in attendance, including his parents, Montero, 21, was thrilled to see his name in the lineup.

"I felt like I was dreaming," Montero said. "It was like somebody punched me in the face or something like that. This is a great night tonight. This is amazing for me."

Montero is expected to compete for a playoff roster spot. If he hits well enough in September, he could threaten Jorge Posada's position on the ALDS roster. If the Yankees were to face a team stocked with left-handed pitching, such as the Texas Rangers, then Montero -- or Andruw Jones -- could be the primary DH.

"If he hits, yeah," Girardi said of Montero potentially being on the postseason roster. "If that is what we decide to do."

Montero hit .290 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs for Triple-A Scranton this season. He hit five home runs in his final seven games. He had 40 of his RBIs in the final two months of his stay in Triple-A.

"In terms of hitting ability, Montero can be a Manny Ramirez or a Miguel Cabrera," Cashman told ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor. "As a catcher, he's got a cannon for an arm. As far as everything and what I want him to be, I want him to be Jorge Posada." Cashman added, "He has a chance to bat third or fourth. He has the potential to be a beast in the middle of our lineup." Girardi is hesitant to start Montero behind the plate. Girardi cited Montero's unfamiliarity with the Yankees' starters, but there are questions if Montero is defensively skilled enough to work a big league game. He could get some spot duty just to get his feet wet in the bigs.

Montero is wearing No. 63.

On Thursday, the Yankees also recalled relievers Lance Pendleton and Raul Valdes, as well as infielder Brandon Laird and outfielder Chris Dickerson. Scott Proctor, the old favorite of Joe Torre, is also back with the Yankees. Proctor had a 6.44 ERA with the Braves before being released.

Montero nearly made the team in the spring, but Girardi and other Yankee officials felt he pressed. Ultimately, the Yankees decided it would be better for Montero to play every day in the minors.

"I felt a little pressure, yeah," Montero said. "I wanted to be with the Yankees. They decide that I'm in Triple-A, but now, I'm here, 'Thank God.' I'm going to help them to win and do my job."

Montero said he has no problem just DHing this season, but in 2012 he expects to be behind the plate.

"It won't matter for me," Montero said of his role now. "I know next year is going to be good. I want to be behind the plate [eventually.]"

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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