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As Bisons teammates move up, Montero stays focused

It was a crisp 39 degrees at Coca-Cola Field when the Buffalo Bisons took batting practice. Jesus Montero said he wore two pairs of batting gloves and contemplated a face mask to combat the cold.

While Montero was deciding how to dress for the late-April Buffalo weather, Matt Dominguez was in Toronto, in the comfort of the domed Rogers Centre, making his first appearance with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Dominguez earned the promotion to help plug the hole at first base after Chris Colabello was hit with an 80-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy.

There were plenty of reasons why Dominguez got the call over others, like Montero.

But Montero doesn’t really concern himself with those reasons. Decisions like that, well, they’ve always been out of the slugger’s control. So he celebrates his teammate’s opportunity and gets back to his business.

“Today they called up Matt Dominguez and I was happy for him,” Montero said. “It was perfect. He had an opportunity up there and he can take advantage of that.

“We don’t control anything like that, so you’ve still got to do your job. I don’t try to think about that too much because it’s not our decisions. It’s hard. Sometimes they call up other players and you’ve got to stay here and keep working hard.”

Montero’s work has produced at the plate for the Bisons. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games in Tuesday’s 8-7 14-inning loss to the Rochester Red Wings. Montero had two hits, including a towering two-run home run in the bottom of the 14th that kept the Bisons rally alive.

Ask the 26-year old catcher turned designated hitter/first baseman about the key to his current offense success, and there’s nothing too magical or technical about it.

“I’m just trying to come out here and have fun. Help the team to win,” Montero said. “I’m trying to have fun every single time. I’m not thinking about anything. Come out here, have fun, be a good teammate and help the team to win. That’s most important. … Be ready and relaxed. I try not to think about things too much, be natural and have fun out there.”

Montero was the top prospect in the New York Yankees organization in 2010 and thrived in his MLB debut – a September callup in 2011. But the Yankees traded him to the Seattle Mariners as part of a multi-player deal to land pitcher Michael Pineda. Montero played a full season for the Mariners in 2012 but only a handful of games the next three seasons, spending the majority of his time in Triple-A.

In March, the Mariners designated Montero for assignment and the Blue Jays claimed him off waivers and assigned him to Buffalo.

“First of all, when I got here, I played here five years ago with the Yankees against the Mets. I like the stadium,” said Montero referring to his two years with Yankees affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which corresponded to the years the Bisons were a Mets affiliate.

“My goal is to play hard, hit the ball, have fun and do my routine every single time. If I do my routine every single time, I know I’m going to be good. I’ve got to make sure every day I do my things in the gym and the cage, you know, ground balls and all that. Then just wait for the opportunity to see if they call me up or not.”