Perez kicking swing into gear

Perez kicking swing into gear

TEMPE, Ariz. -- After an offensive regression in 2016, Angels catcher Carlos Perez tweaked his swing during the winter, adding a leg kick that he hopes will improve his consistency at the plate this season.

"I lift my leg up a little bit more, and I'm trying to use the entire field," Perez said in Spanish on Saturday. "The aggressiveness of the swing has improved with the leg kick, so that's what's changed."

Perez hit his second homer of the spring Saturday in a 9-3 victory over the Rockies, and is batting .231. He has two homers and a triple in his last three exhibition games. He said he's been happy with his quality at-bats and swings this spring. He said he initially experimented with a leg kick in 2016, but he didn't fully adopt his modified swing until he took the time to get comfortable with it in the offseason.

Perez throws out Broxton

"Last year, there was a time when I was lifting my leg, but I didn't have that much time to practice it, so I didn't keep using it," Perez said. "Over the offseason, I practiced. The consistency is the most important part. When the consistency comes, the hits will come."

Perez, 26, appeared ready to establish himself as the Angels' everyday catcher at the beginning of last year, but he lost his starting role after batting a disappointing .209 with a .568 OPS in 87 games. It was a significant drop from 2015, when Perez hit .250 with a .645 OPS in 86 games as a rookie, and closed the season by batting .333 over his final 23 games.

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Now Perez will have to fight for playing time with fellow backstop Martin Maldonado, who was acquired from the Brewers in the offseason and seems better positioned to serve as the Angels' primary catcher due to his strong arm and pitch-framing skills. Still, Perez is hoping that his new swing will help him rebound and make him a regular presence on the field for the Halos in 2017, even if he's officially the backup.

"I've honestly felt really good since the beginning of Spring Training, so hopefully, I'll keep improving," Perez said.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.