Q&A with Luis Montanez

Just two years ago, former Cubs first-round pick Luis Montanez was struggling to find a spot on a Class-A roster. He never imagined that he'd advance to Triple-A by 2006, let alone in the Cubs' farm system.

Inside The Ivy: You were leading the farm system in average up until a few weeks ago. How do you view your season?

Luis Montanez: I think I've just built on what I've accomplished the past two years since I moved to the outfield. I've used that momentum and that confidence and I guess it's just a reflection of it all.

Inside The Ivy: You've told us before that there's less pressure on you since moving to the outfield. With the Cubs struggling so much at the top this year and with you no longer fighting for a position somewhere in this organization, do you now see yourself in the big league club's future plans?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, it comes across everybody's mind here. We're all paying attention to what's going up there and we're all excited to really be one step away and to be ready for when or if an opportunity becomes available.

Inside The Ivy: I don't want to rain on your parade, but you've struggled a bit since coming up to Triple-A. What do you see differently in the pitching here as opposed to West Tenn?

Luis Montanez: Veteran guys that have a little more command. Everyone is just a little sharper. It's not a big difference, but that little aspect in baseball is always a big deal.

Inside The Ivy: You've been in the outfield since '04. Do you ever see yourself going back to the infield at short or second?

Luis Montanez: No, that's completely in the past. I think my fit in the outfield is just more natural.

Inside The Ivy: You also seem to have added a little power to your swing since the move to the outfield. Would you agree?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, I would. I'd always hit a lot of doubles and everybody thought I was going to translate those doubles into home runs and it's coming about. Now I'm just trying to take those doubles and put them over the fence.

Inside The Ivy: With the depth at outfield and so many competing for a spot around you, do you ever worry about there not being enough room at the position?

Luis Montanez: I don't, because I know there are a lot of other teams out there and that anything can happen. Since I can play either corner position, if I can do my job and make the adjustments at Triple-A, everything will work out.

Inside The Ivy: When the idea of moving you to the outfield took place, was that something you went to them about, or did they approach you?

Luis Montanez: Actually, I went to them about it as an idea and they agreed. They felt they had to do something to bring about my ability on the field, and I wasn't really showing that ability in the infield. We mutually came to an agreement to give the outfield a try.

Inside The Ivy: Two years ago when you were struggling at Daytona and got sent to Extended Spring Training, did you ever imagine yourself turning it around and being one step away from Chicago?

Luis Montanez: No, no. Back then, I thought I wasn't even going to make it to Double-A! I was just praying to get there. Now, I feel that I am truly am just one step away. Back then, I had a long way to go.

Inside The Ivy: And look at you now. Lot of hard work, huh?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, I look at my career as a three-year outfielder, not a six-year minor leaguer. I look at it as if I came out of college three years ago.

Inside The Ivy: After this year, you'll be a minor league free agent if you're not added to the 40-man roster. Is that something you've looked ahead to?

Luis Montanez: Yeah, but I'm not in any hurry. Triple-A isn't bad. It's not a bad life and I'm not complaining about it. I'm not on the 40-man right now, so the only way I'll stay with the Cubs past this year is if I am added to the 40-man or re-sign as a minor league free agent, which is my decision. I'm only 24, so I'm still young!

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