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Former Yankee Jesus Montero has matured as a Mariner

Jesus Montero of the Seattle Mariners throws the

Jesus Montero of the Seattle Mariners throws the ball back to the pitcher against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday, May 11, 2012. Credit: Jim McIsaac

There will be no more throwing ice cream sandwiches at scouts, which he did last August. There will be no more showing up to spring training 40 pounds overweight, as he did in 2014, armed with the explanation, "After winter ball, all I did was eat."

Jesus Montero, who is expected to start at first base Sunday for the Mariners, has not always made the best choices, but he's trying to do better.

"I just think about my daughter every single time, and then I do good things," said Montero, who is 25 years old and married with a 14-month-old daughter and a son on the way.

"My daughter, my family, my wife, I want to do better for them," he said Friday.

The former Yankees prospect, who was traded to Seattle for Michael Pineda in January 2012, was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on July 9.

His road back to a spot in the starting lineup at Yankee Stadium was rocky.

In 2013, he suffered a torn meniscus and then accepted a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Later that year, he suffered an injured hand during an auto accident in his native Venezuela.

Montero, who hit .332 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs in 84 games with Tacoma, said he is just grateful to be back in the major leagues and ready to prove his worth.

"I'm here for the opportunity, and I'm here to help the team win," said Montero, who has struggled at the plate (1-for-8) since being recalled. "Whenever I get the opportunity to play, I'm going to do my best to win. That's what we're looking for here."

Though he bats righthanded, Montero said he likes to aim for Yankee Stadium's short porch in right. He entered Friday night's 4-3 Yankees win as a pinch-hitter in the ninth but struck out swinging against Andrew Miller to end the game.

"I just tried to do my best," Montero said. "I don't want to strike out. I was hoping to hit something good to help the team to win, but he made some good pitches and got me out."

Montero spent all of Saturday's game on the bench, where he got a good look at Pineda, who pitched six innings in the Mariners' 4-3 win.

He said he hasn't given much thought to the player for whom he was traded. "I honestly haven't [kept up with] what he's doing," he said.

Normally a catcher or designated hitter, Sunday's game marks only his fourth appearance at first base in the majors.

"He'll have an opportunity to go out there . . . and we'll see," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I'm not sure where we will go from there."

Montero, who signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old and debuted at 21, said he is concerned only about his and Seattle's performance. He said he feels his new mind-set, acquired with age, can only help him.

"It's not easy to be here [in the majors]that young," he said. "I didn't know anything about the big leagues . . . Hopefully I stay here for a long time. I'm just going to keep working hard to be up here."

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