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Originally published Friday, January 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

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Mariners getting closer to making Montero for Pineda trade official

The agent for Jesus Montero said the catcher is happy about the trade that will send him to the Mariners.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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One week after news leaked of the Mariners' blockbuster trade with the Yankees, the deal still hasn't been officially consummated. But an end might be in sight.

The holdup has been Jesus Montero's travel problems getting from his home in Venezuela to Seattle to undergo his physical exam.

Montero has had to deal with weather, plane and visa issues, but on Friday word came that he had reached the United States and finally was en route to Seattle. That could mean a weekend trade announcement, but considering all the snow-related issues in town, that's no guarantee, either.

Montero's agent, Jamie Appel, said that his client reacted positively to the pending trade, which will send pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the Yankees for Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi.

"He's happy," Appel said. "He's the type of guy who says, 'I'm playing baseball, I can be thankful for that.' Jesus is happy. He just wants to play baseball. That was his quote. Jesus is a very quiet, reserved kid. He's very polite, comes from a good family background, good parents."

Montero, who on Friday was ranked as the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball by MLB.com, has a 20-year-old brother who catches in the Cardinals' organization. He is named Jesus Rafael Montero, while the would-be Mariner is Jesus Alejandro Montero.

"We call him (the younger brother) Montero Jr. in the office," Appel said.

The two grew up in Guacara, Venezuela — about 12 miles from Felix Hernandez's hometown of Valencia.

The trade news didn't come as a total shock, considering the rumor mill had long churned out Montero's name.

"He knew he was the biggest chip," Appel said. "He had kind of been told it was a possibility, and he's always levelheaded and aware."

Montero, 22, faced a situation with the Yankees where he would have had to fight for playing time in 2012. With the Mariners, he's likely to play every day, which he takes as a positive aspect of the trade, Appel said.

"With the Mariners, he'll probably be DH if he's not catching — you would assume," he said. "He still has to work hard and prove himself, obviously, but I'm sure they traded for him to be in the lineup."

Montero has been dogged by doubts about his defensive ability, but "he definitely feels confident he can catch in the majors," Appel said.

Appel said Noesi — also a client — is happy about the pending trade, because of the likely opportunity to compete for a spot in the Mariners' rotation. He was a starter throughout the minor leagues but pitched in relief last year for the Yankees.

"He wants to work hard and show he's a rotation guy," Appel said.

Appel's firm, ACES, also represents catcher John Jaso, obtained by the Mariners from Tampa Bay in a winter trade for Josh Lueke, as well as infielder Chone Figgins and closer Brandon League.

Montero's arrival could obviously have an effect on Jaso. Unless there's another move, the Mariners now have Montero, Jaso and incumbent starter Miguel Olivo all coming to camp as catchers, along with Adam Moore and Chris Gimenez.

"John is always in good shape — he's going to come in and compete," Appel said. "Jaso's clearminded about it. He's athletic enough that if he needs to move to another position or try something else, he's up for it."

As for Figgins, Appel said he's in a good frame of mind and eager to rebound from two subpar seasons with the Mariners. Figgins didn't play after Aug. 1 last year because of a strained right hip flexor. In 81 games, he hit .188, after putting up a .259 average in 2010. Figgins has two more years left on the four-year, $36 million contract he signed before the 2010 season.

"This whole offseason he's been working on getting healthy," Appel said. "That's his goal. He feels he can come into camp healthy, put last year behind him, and move forward. He can't dwell on the past. He knows what he has to do, and the first thing is to get as healthy as possible."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

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