Trio vying for playing time behind the plate

Trio vying for playing time behind the plate

Trio vying for playing time behind the plate
CHICAGO -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia would not commit to young Hank Conger as his No. 1 catcher on Saturday, even though Conger was in the starting lineup for the third game in a row.

"It's something we're looking at," Scioscia said, refusing to pin a label on any of his catchers.

This leaves veterans Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson on the outside looking in, wondering where they stand. Mathis -- seemingly the No. 1 catcher coming into the season after a strong spring -- spent some time in Scioscia's office on Saturday morning. Wilson shrugged and said, "I'll just play when I get a chance and see what happens."

Conger's sixth start, against Chicago's Gavin Floyd with young Tyler Chatwood making his second career start, brought him even with Mathis. Wilson has started twice.

"Right now, catching is something we're paying attention to," Scioscia said. "Hank, defensively, is doing a nice job. He has the ability to swing the bat. Those [three straight starts] are more off matchups. From what we've seen, we definitely like Hank in the battter's box. If he doesn't do the job behind the plate, it'd be a moot point."

Conger entered Saturday batting .235 with a .350 on-base percentage and .412 slugging mark. Mathis' slash line is .192/.185/.423, while Wilson is at .143/.143/.143. Conger had 20 plate appearances, Mathis 26 and Wilson seven.

"Jeff wants to play, and we respect that," Scioscia said when asked about his closed-door meeting with the most experienced of the three catchers. "We also know how important it is to give Hank a look. With Peter Bourjos in center, there are some things we need to keep looking at.

"Right now, there's some competition behind the plate."

It appears likely the club will keep all three receivers, knowing how vulnerable catchers are to injury and that the organization's prospects aren't ready.

"We have three receivers who are Major League players on our roster," Scioscia said. "It might be a look we have to keep moving forward."

In Saturday's 7-2 victory, Conger went 2-for-4 with a homer, double and three RBIs. His three-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Angels a 6-1 cushion.