Monty ready to face old pals: 'We can be friends again after'

April 23rd, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- After lunching at a local favorite spot on Tuesday, rode into Busch Stadium with close friend and had to catch himself before nearly walking into the Cardinals’ clubhouse.

“It’s weird being on the other side [of Busch Stadium],” Montgomery said with a laugh from the D-backs’ clubhouse. “I rode in with Carlson today and I almost walked in with him. He was one of my best friends over there. He picked me up and I got some time with him.”

It’s only natural that Montgomery almost walked into the Cardinals’ clubhouse, considering that he pitched for St. Louis for parts of two seasons before being shipped to the Rangers at the Trade Deadline last July. After an up-and-down first half of the season – one that saw the Cardinals struggle mightily – Montgomery pitched exceptionally well with the Rangers and helped that franchise win its first World Series crown.

After compiling a promising 6-3 record with a 3.11 ERA in 11 starts with the Cardinals late in the 2022 season, Montgomery slumped to 6-9 despite posting a respectable 3.42 ERA in 21 starts. Once he got to Texas and worked again with former Cards pitching coach Mike Maddux, Montgomery went 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA down the stretch and compiled a 3-1 mark in the postseason. He won’t get his World Series ring until May 28, when the D-backs travel to Globe Life Field to face the Rangers for a two-game series.

“That’s what you work for,” Montgomery said of winning a World Series crown. “I got over there with a bunch of great guys, and they were running on all cylinders. It was fun and I’m glad that I could be that push to get them through it. [Nathan Eovaldi] and [Andrew] Heaney, I talk to a lot of the team over there, still. My mom sent me a video of what the [Rangers’ World Series] ring looks like with a rundown of it all, and it’s going to be sick.”

Montgomery, 31, had to be sick this offseason when he didn’t find the market that he wanted following the best stretch of baseball in his career. He and former agent, Scott Boras, had little interest from teams willing to meet his asking price, and Montgomery remained on the free-agent market for months. It wasn’t until March 27 when Montgomery agreed to a one-year, $25 million deal with the D-backs. Montgomery has a vesting option for 2025, but he also can opt out of the contract if he makes at least 10 starts this season for Arizona.

Asked if the Cardinals ever contacted him or his representatives about a possible reunion in St. Louis, Montgomery said he would not answer any questions about what happened over the offseason.

On Wednesday, Montgomery will be facing the many of the same Cardinals whom he shared a clubhouse with during parts of the 2022 and ’23 seasons (watch live at 12:15 p.m. CT/10:15 a.m. MST on MLB.TV and DBACKS.TV). He said his emotions will likely be similar to his first start with the Cardinals on Aug. 6, 2022, when he faced the Yankees just days after they had traded him.

“I’m just excited to get out there,” said Montgomery, who limited the Giants to four hits and one earned run over six innings in his first start with the D-backs. “It’s playing baseball against old friends. But I’ll be competing, and they’ll be competing, and we can be friends again after.”

As for his time with the Cardinals, Montgomery said he still talks and texts to pitchers Miles Mikolas, Ryan Helsley and Steven Matz, and Lars Nootbaar and Carlson. In the process of moving to Nashville, Tenn., where he will live in the offseason, Montgomery said he is already planning to work out with Matz over the winter.

“I had fun. Good team, good guys and I enjoyed the coaching staff over there and it is what it is,” he said. “Once you get out there, you’re just facing the hitters that are out there and you’re trying to execute pitches.”