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Conger getting more time behind the plate

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HOUSTON -- Angels catcher Hank Conger was behind the plate for a fifth consecutive C.J. Wilson start on Tuesday, but it had less to do with any exclusive pairing with the left-hander and more to do with Chris Iannetta's early struggles with the pitching staff, manager Mike Scioscia said.

"First and foremost, we want him to get a little more comfortable behind the plate," Scioscia said prior to the opener of a three-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. "He's doing a good job, but it just doesn't look like he's as comfortable as he needs to be back there. On the offensive side, he hasn't gotten a lot of hits to fall in, but that's secondary to what our starting pitchers need."

At the plate, Iannetta has just one hit in his last 23 at-bats, putting his slash line at .203/.305/.367. Defensively, he's allowed only a couple of passed balls, but has been behind the plate for 14 wild pitches -- he had 17 in 78 games at catcher all of last year -- and has thrown out only two of 23 basestealers.

A lot of that, of course, is a byproduct of the pitchers he's catching. And Conger became the first catcher in franchise history to record three errors in one game on Tuesday night.

But Scioscia said Iannetta is still trying to find chemistry with a pitching staff that for two straight years has had a lot of unfamiliar faces. So he'll "mix and match" for the time being, though he added that Iannetta will still "do the lion's share."

"It's just trying to get acclimated with some of these guys," said Scioscia, who has started Conger at catcher in four of the last seven games. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time."

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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