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Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero in best stretch of thorny season

Miguel Montero landed the largest contract in Arizona Diamondbacks history last July, a season removed from his 2011 All-Star performance.

Yet, through the first two months of the 2013 season, Montero’s batting average was below .200. His on-base and slugging percentages sat below .300 and he had less than 10 extra-base hits and less than 20 runs batted in.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson slotted Montero into the eighth spot in the batting order on more than one occasion, somewhere he hadn’t seen since early in the 2011 season.

“It feels great,” Montero said on May 20, the night of his first multi-hit game in more than two weeks. “I can’t remember the last time I got two hits. Actually (just) one hit.”

Such was a reflection of Montero’s season at the plate.

While the catcher, who is often regarded as the Diamondbacks’ unofficial team captain, has prized intangibles — leadership ability, pitch-calling and general baseball IQ — his season was bound to be remembered by the offense it lacked.

Lately, however, Montero’s production is trending upward.

The 29-year-old is hitting .300 in the month of June with a .368 OBP. His season batting average has climbed 24 points, to .222, since the end of May.

In his last eight games, Montero is hitting .366 (11-for-30) with five RBI and a .927 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS).

A key middle-of-the-order fixture for the Diamondbacks, the importance of Montero’s resurgence can’t be understated.