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Throwing woes not keeping Conger down


TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels manager and former catcher Mike Scioscia had an unexpected reaction when asked about Hank Conger's rough Sunday against the Royals behind the plate, when he made three throwing errors to up his spring total to four.

"I like the fact that he's still throwing," Scioscia said.

Scioscia was happy to see Conger maintain his confidence and continue to be aggressive against baserunners, which is half the battle. The other half, perpetually elusive to the 25-year-old switch-hitter who's looking to finally stick in the big leagues, is finding that consistent release point.

On Sunday, one of his throws to second and two of his throws to first landed in the outfield, allowing the runner to advance. It was three of at least five errant throws Conger has made in Cactus League play.

"I feel confident," Conger said. "I mean, I kept throwing yesterday. My arm feels great. The throws were hard, but they were in the outfield. Everything feels good right now. As long as I look at it as just playing catch and not worry about anything else -- mechanics, mental stuff, things like that. It's just get up, play catch like you normally do every single day of your life."

Conger is hitting well, as usual, going 7-for-17 with two homers and a team-leading 10 RBIs. And he's happy with his receiving skills and footwork behind the plate. But throwing continues to be an issue for Conger, seemingly the only thing that can prevent him from winning the backup job behind Chris Iannetta.

Ironically enough, the other contender, John Hester, throws accurately but without much arm strength.

"I feel like I've done a great job as far as receiving, blocking, getting on the same page with the pitchers," Conger said. "So it is tough when you're doing so many good things right, and the throwing part is kind of getting magnified right now. But that's when your mental ability just has to block it out, and understand that you are doing good things and not let the throwing bring you down totally."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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