TAMPA, Fla. - In his first start since the backup catcher's job became his to lose, Jesus Montero did nothing to lose it.

The 21-year-old catcher played six innings Saturday, going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Yankees' 10-8 loss to the Nationals. Montero, whose improved defense has been a focal point of camp, is 3-for-11 (.273) in four games.

Joe Girardi, calling Montero a "no-panic hitter," said how the catcher performs at the plate is the least of his concerns.

"He knows how to hit, is probably the best way to put it," Girardi said. "There's always so much talk about his defense. He's worked really hard on his defense and we want him to continue to do that, but this is a kid who's used to playing every day, and it seems like his stroke is coming back to him. He's hit some balls hard. Seems like whenever there's a runner on base, he turns it up a bit, too."

Girardi and a trainer came out to look at Montero in the top of the fourth after Ian Desmond fouled a ball off the knuckles of the catcher's right hand. Montero stayed in the game and singled home Jorge Posada in the bottom half of the inning.