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Conger's progress leads to more playing time

Conger's progress leads to more playing time

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Conger's progress leads to more playing time

ANAHEIM -- When the 2013 season began, there was no doubt Chris Iannetta was the Angels' starting catcher.

However, in the past 20 games, Iannetta has split time with Hank Conger. Including Thursday's series finale between the Cardinals and Angels, Iannetta and Conger have had 10 starts apiece, with Conger starting three of the last four contests.

"There's a bit of a time-sharing that's been going on here in the last month, and I think it's been beneficial to both players," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Both players want to be out there as much as they can, and it's taken a little pressure off Chris and given Hank a chance to contribute."

Over his past 10 games, Conger is hitting .290 with five RBIs -- two of which came via a home run in Wednesday's game -- and is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.

"I think the biggest thing right now, for me, is still keeping the mindset of just showing up to the field and not getting caught up in whether I'm going to be playing the next day," Conger said. "Show up, look at the lineup and then take my routine from there."

While Conger has always been able to hit, his defense had been a bit of a question mark. During Spring Training, Conger's throwing became an area of concern.

But, the catcher has spent a lot of time working to correct a release point he said used to be "all out of whack."

"From when he first signed with us, you're seeing a constant improvement in becoming that Major League receiver that he's becoming," Scioscia said. "His throwing has taken a 180-degree turn from where he was in Spring Training. He's put a lot of time into it."

Conger threw out two would-be basestealers in Wednesday's game and has caught five of the last six runners who have attempted to steal on him.

"It really hasn't been an overnight-type thing," Conger said. "Our job as catchers is for us to get the ball and try to put it on the bag. It's a two-way street, the pitcher has to be quick and then we have to make an accurate throw. So, I don't really try to worry about catching the guy stealing, but just making sure I come up and make a good throw on the bag."

William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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