One night after becoming only the fourth player in major league history to hit a walk-off home run in his major league debut, Angels rookie Carlos Perez was behind the plate for a second consecutive game against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday. The reason was obvious.
“Obviously, when a guy plays well, you can earn more playing time,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “And Carlos played well last night.”
Perez, called up from triple-A Salt Lake on Monday, lined a single to right-center field in his first at-bat and did a nice job of handling the nasty repertoire of hard-throwing right-hander Garrett Richards before his ninth-inning heroics, when he lined a home run to left field for a 5-4 Angels victory.
The 24-year-old from Venezuela has always been considered an above-average defender, but if he is anywhere near as productive with the bat as he was at Salt Lake, where he hit .361 with two home runs and 12 runs batted in in 17 games, he could take playing time away from Chris Iannetta, who is hitting .094.
“We’re going to need them both, so whatever it turns out to be, it turns out to be,” Scioscia said, when asked how he will split playing time at catcher. “I think Carlos will probably take a little pressure off of Chris in trying to go out there every day. … Catching is an incredibly demanding position. If both those guys are playing well, it makes us better.”
Iannetta, 32, is a nine-year veteran who has been the Angels’ primary catcher since 2012, but he knows he must hit better than he has to retain his starting job.
“I come to the park ready to play,” Iannetta said. “And if I’m not in there, I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win and prepare myself for the next time I get in there.”