Acquired by the Travelers on June 20 from the independent Somerset Patriots, outfielder Luis Montanez has played parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs. Drafted by the Cubs in 2000 in the first round (No. 3 overall), Montanez, 31, has spent time at all levels including AAA last season with the Phillies and Cardinals. In his first appearance with the Travelers, he started off hot with a 4-of-5 performance which included a double and solo home run.
What made you decide to sign with the Angels?
Before the season, I was offered by a couple of teams but when I was told I would go to AA I said no. I went to play independent ball to stay active and in shape. When I heard the Angels were interested after seeing me play, I was excited. Everything seemed to align just right, and I had no problem. So far, it’s been great with a great team and a great manager.
What keeps you motivated this far along into your career?
Not one single thing, but my new focus is my family and two girls. (Stella is two and Emma is three months. Wife is Andrea.) The challenge is trying to confront and overcome different situations. Why not play as long as I can. It keeps me young.
Talk about your career and the roller coaster?
Last year the Phillies signed me, and I went to AAA but after two months they released me. The Cardinals picked me up for the rest of the season. In the minors, contracts are for a year, and there is never a guarantee. I couldn’t find a team to start this season. I haven’t been in the Majors since 2011 and was up and down for four seasons so I didn’t get used to it. You start appreciating more where you are.
In your first Major League at-bat, you hit a home run. Do you remember that day?
Yes, and it was against the Angels. I debuted when I was with the Orioles and had to fly all the way to California. I was nervous and was going against Ervin Santana and was surprised I was in because he is right-handed. The first pitch was a 95 mph fastball and brushed me back. If the second pitch was anywhere in the zone, I was going to get a clean swing. It was mine to hit. As I was rounding the bases, I was real serious. When I looked at the video, everyone was smiling, and I broke into a big smile. It was one of the greatest moments, and the grounds crew was able to get the ball to me.
You’ve been discovered as a writer when you wrote an e-mail to Mid-Atlantic Sports Network correspondent Roch Kubatko after leaving the Orioles. How did your writing come about?
We have so much down time in the mornings, and I was always interested in literature. I started getting into books to develop a sense why people express themselves. I express myself by writing on paper. Ever since middle school and high school, I have been interested in writing, and when it comes easy you can become great.