Miguel Montero to Undergo Knee Surgery

The Arizona Diamondbacks are suddenly very glad that they could not work out a trade involving Chris Snyder this winter. Snyder becomes the D-backs' starting catcher as Miguel Montero is out indefinitely with a knee injury that will require surgery.

The Arizona Diamondbacks placed Miguel Montero on the 15-day disabled list the day after Montero injured his right knee running to first base.  Although it appeared that Montero injured himself in an attempt to avoid a collision with Pirates pitcher Zach Duke, Montero tells a different tale.

"I was trying to run him over and I felt something pop," Montero told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. "I tried to speed up and I felt something pop and that's when I slowed down."

An MRI Saturday night revealed a torn meniscus in his right knee, but Montero will undergo more extensive tests on Monday to determine if there is damage to any of the ligaments in the knee.  Due to the uncertainty regarding the extent of the damage, there is currently no timetable for Montero's return.

"We'll see when we get the other tests back," manager A.J. Hinch said. "That would be the best-case scenario for him, just a torn meniscus."

The meniscus serves to distribute your body weight across the knee joint.  Without the meniscus functioning properly, undue stress is placed on the femur and the tibia.  Since catchers put stress on their knees and leg bones every time they go into a crouch, it is unlikely that Montero will be back behind the dish anytime soon.  At minimum, his injury will require surgery to repair the damaged cartilage.

Fortunately, the D-backs have a very capable in-house replacement named Chris Snyder.  Snyder dealt with injuries himself last year that allowed Montero to supplant him in the starting role.  When healthy, however, Snyder is one of the better defensive catchers in the game and provides a solid bat to go with it.  In 2008, Snyder managed an .800 OPS, threw out 22 of 61 would-be basestealers (31%), and did not commit an error.   According to The Fielding Bible Volume II, Snyder saved 60 earned runs for his pitchers between 2004 and 2008 based on how pitchers performed throwing to Snyder versus how they performed throwing to other backstops.

As if to reassure his teammates, Snyder drove in five runs in his first game replacing Montero as the starter.  John Hester, who was called up from Reno to serve as Snyder's backup, had reached base five times in 11 trips to the plate in the Aces' first three games, including a double and a home run.  Primarily known for his outstanding defensive abilities, Hester broke out offensively last season by batting .328 and slugging .535 with the Aces before homering in his first major league at-bat.

Continuing the chain of promotions set off by Montero's injury, catcher Sean Coughlin has been elevated to Triple-A. Coughlin, a .304 hitter with the BayBears in 2009, had three hits in Friday's contest including the go-ahead RBI double in the 13th inning. Coughlin belted seven home runs for the BayBears last season in 50 games and hit .385 as a non-roster invitee to big league camp this spring.

Additionally, third baseman Ricardo Sosa has been placed on the BayBears' disabled list with a strained hip. Sosa went 1-for-3 with an RBI double on Opening Day and hasn't played since. He drove in 71 runs for the BayBears last year while smacking a dozen home runs. 

Sosa a joins outfielder Peter Clifford on the Moblie disabled list. Clifford hit .236 for the BayBears last season and will likely see some time at first base along with his outfield duties once he is eligible to come off the DL April 15th.  Even with Coughlin gone, the BayBears still have two catchers on their roster in Konrad Schmidt and Ed Easley.

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