Lou Montanez returned to Bowie on a rehab assignment Friday night, getting tested in the field and at the plate in the Baysox 7-3 loss to the Harrisburg Senators. Montanez had surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb in May.
Monatnez would finish the night 1-5, the lone hit being an RBI single to left field, with five putouts in left field. He said he is scheduled to play Saturday and if he needs more at-bats he may stay with the Baysox through Monday. He also expects to return to the Orioles later this month. He was tested early with a couple doubles hit his way in the first and was rusty playing bounces off walls, but he felt good after the game.
"The thumb feels good, there's no pain, I mean I'm still stiff," Mantanez said. "I'm not 100 percent, but it's playable.
"It took a while to heal, I thought it was going to take six-to-eight weeks, but it's been over three months. I want it to be 100 percent so that's why I'm taking it slowly."
Last year Montanez hit for the triple crown in the Eastern League, batting .355, driving in 97 RBI's and mashing 26 home runs before being promoted to Baltimore and making his Major League debut on August 5, 2008. He started out the year in Triple-A Norfolk and made it back to big league action on April 21. He was placed on the disabled list on May 23, but has made the most of his time off.
"I tried to make the most [of my summer] since I couldn't play baseball, so I got on my boat, went on a cruise, went to the beach, the things I normally can't do in the summer," Montanez said. "It was kind of nice being at home during the summer. It was the first time in 10 years I could sleep in my bed during June and July."
Montanez also admitted that he has been following the Web sites and blogs this year, following his teammates and checking in on what has been happening in the minors. Though he enjoyed some time off, he was happy to get the reception he got from the Baysox fans.
"I got a warm reception from the people that were here. Everybody knows me, everybody's calling me 'Lou,' it was nice to have some support," Montanez said.
The fans behind the first base dugout gave Montanez a standing ovation and the familiar "Louuuuuu" chants were heard when he stepped to the plate.
However, in the time Montanez has been out, outfielders Nolan Reimold, Felix Pie have been making the most of their playing time. With Nick Markakis and Adam Jones solidified in their outfield spots, and adding Luke Scott to the mix, that leaves four players with one outfield spot and one designated hitter spot.
"It was frustrating at the beginning of the season, not making the team because I felt I performed really well, but it ended up turning out all right because I only spent two weeks in Triple-A," Montanez said.
"It was unfortunate that I got hurt, but I'm the type of person that I make the best of it, so I made the best of my summer. I had a really good time, but now it's back to business."
In order to maximize his potential of making the big league team next year, Montanez said he has been working out in all three outfield spots and has accepted his potential role in the future.
"I know Jones is going to be the centerfielder, Markakis is going to be the right-fielder and it looks like Nolan's going to be the left-fielder, so I have to work at all three and whenever they have off days," Montanez said.
"If I'm going to be the fourth outfielder, then that's what I'm going to have to be, so I have to work all three [positions]."
While shortstop questions never go away, Montanez put those to bed, again.
"I like to stand as far away from the hitter as possible," Montanez said.
Montanez left first base as an open option, but did have this to point out:
"I doubt it with those big left-handed hitters in the American League east, Mark Teixeira, David Ortiz, I don't want to get too close."