Hank Conger during an exhibition game. (Morry Gash / Associated…)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Catcher Hank Conger has sailed two throws to third base into left field this spring. He bounced a late throw to second on Wednesday and nearly hit pitcher Jered Weaver in the head with a throw to second after the Angels pitcher finished his warm-up tosses before an inning.
Conger, a 2006 first-round pick who has spent much of the past three years at triple-A, is ready to hit in the big leagues, and his arm strength is adequate. But to nail down the job as Chris Iannetta’s backup, he’ll need to find a consistent-enough exchange and arm stroke to control a running game. He is still searching.
“On the practice field, he’s making a lot of strides, but at some point you need to bring that consistency into the game,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re very confident he will, but he has to find it.”
Scioscia doesn’t need Conger to be the next Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. He doesn’t have to “throw rockets to the corner of the bag all the time,” the manager said, but he can’t let opponents run wild on the Angels.
“There’s a level you need to where teams either have to work for their stolen bases or the catcher’s tag time will deter them,” Scioscia said, referring to the time a pitch hits a catcher’s glove to the time it takes for an infielder to make a tag on a runner stealing a base.
“Hank has the ability to get to that level, no doubt. Right now, he’s not, but it’s still early in the spring, and we’re very confident he’ll find that release point to do what he needs to do.”
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