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Montero models fatherhood after dad

D-backs catcher's father made him passionate about baseball

LOS ANGELES -- It's been more than three years now and the pain has eased a bit, but Miguel Montero still longs for one more conversation with his late father, Angel.

"Just to talk to him on the phone would be enough," Montero said. "If I could have him for one minute ..."

Montero's voice trailed off, but really no further explanation was needed. He is a son who misses his father.

Montero spoke to his father every day without fail, including the night of March 11, 2009. Then he was awoken by a phone call the next morning with news that Angel had died suddenly of a heart attack.

The D-backs were in the middle of Spring Training at the time, and Montero left the team for a few days to attend the funeral.

"It was really hard for me, because during Spring Training, I usually called him every morning on my way to the field," Montero said. "And when he passed away, it was hard, because I didn't have anybody to call at six in the morning."

Montero's road to the big leagues was not a smooth one. Growing up in Venezuela, he was told by scout after scout that he was not good enough to play in the Major Leagues. It was not until D-backs vice president of Latin Operations Junior Noboa signed him that he finally got his chance.

Through the rejections, it was Angel who kept his son's spirits up.

"He was the biggest supporter in my career," Montero said. "He was the person that taught me how to believe in myself even when others don't think you can do it. He told me to believe in myself and do everything that I do with passion. He said if I didn't want to do it, don't waste my time."

Angel told his son when he was growing up that if he wanted to be a good player, Montero should pay attention to the guys who were already in the big leagues.

"He used to let me sit down in the living room and watch games with him," Montero said. "I was like, 'I don't want watch games, I want to play.' He said, 'That's how you're going to learn how to play.' He was impressive, because he was a guy that grew up watching soccer, but if you talked to him about baseball, you would be amazed how much he knew about the game. Watching the games with him, he was like a good manager. He had a pretty good idea what he was talking about."

When Father's Day rolls around this year, Montero will of course think of Angel, but the pain of the holiday has lessened for him since the birth of his two children, one of whom is named after his father.

And while there are not many regrets that get left between a father and son as close as Montero and Angel were, the one thing that still bothers Montero is that Angel passed before he got to see his son win the everyday catching job and become an All-Star.

"At least I can say that I had a great father who supported me and I had somebody right there when I needed it," Montero said. "I think he was the best father in the world. He was my role model. I just want to be like him and teach my kids the way he taught me. I probably won't be as good a father as he was, but I'm going to try and be the best father I can be."

As Angel would tell him, if you're going to do something, do it with passion.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Miguel Montero