08/06/08 8:40 PM ET
Montanez homers in first MLB at-bat
Rookie is second player in O's history to accomplish feat
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Montanez made his Major League debut as a defensive replacement on Tuesday night, and the Orioles were down by five runs when he came up to the plate for the first time on Wednesday. That came in the third inning against Los Angeles starter Ervin Santana, and Montanez pulled a fastball over the fence in left-center field to etch his name in the history books.
"You never expect that, but you do envision this when you were a kid for your first at-bat," said Montanez, who had 26 home runs for Bowie. "You want to go deep, and it actually came true, so it's real special."
The former first-round pick joined Buster Narum -- a pitcher who debuted in 1963 -- as the only Orioles who have homered in their first at-bat. And he helped justify his odyssey through the Minor Leagues with that one swing. Montanez, the third overall selection in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, had waited a long time for that homer.
"That means a lot," he said when told that his homer paired him with Narum in the team's long and storied history. "It means my name's going to be in the record books for as long as baseball exists, so it's real neat."
Montanez later singled and scored, and manager Dave Trembley said the quick home run shouldn't be a surprise. After all, Montanez was one of the hottest hitters in the Minor Leagues, so it's not like it came from nowhere.
"When you're hot, it doesn't matter who's pitching or where you're playing," said Trembley. "And he's hot, and he's picked up right where he left off. I told him I thought that when he got to the big leagues, he'd hit as well or maybe better than he did, because these guys are around the plate. The conditions are better, the umpires are better, the pitchers are better -- they command their pitches better. He'll probably get as good or maybe better pitches to hit, but once they find out what your weaknesses are, they'll keep pounding it. They haven't found it out yet, and I hope they don't."
"It's real difficult, especially the adjustments," added Montanez on the same subject. "Tomorrow, pitchers know what you're weaknesses are, so you have to be doing constant adjustments. But the ballparks are nicer, so that's a plus."
The historic moment represented some odd symmetry for Montanez and Trembley, who have known each other for years. Trembley managed the youngster in 2002 at Class A Daytona Beach during Montanez's second full professional season, and now he'll get to write the rookie's name in the lineup card at the sport's highest level for the foreseeable future.
"I talked to him yesterday," said Trembley, relaying a closed-door conversation. "I told him that it's the same game, maybe a little bit faster. But don't come into it thinking it's a tryout. Do the same things that you were doing in Bowie. The coaches are there to help you. Just do what you did in Bowie. I told him how we do things here."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.