Angels catcher Carlos Perez was in the lineup for Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards, the seventh start in nine games for the 24-year-old rookie who was called up from triple-A Salt Lake on May 4.
It’s pretty clear that Perez, who was hitting .318 with one homer and four runs batted in entering Friday has supplanted the struggling Chris Iannetta (.101) as the starter behind the plate, even though Manager Mike Scioscia hasn’t come right out and said it.
Iannetta, a nine-year veteran who has been the team’s primary catcher since 2012, has taken his demotion in stride. There was no hint of bitterness in his voice as he spoke about it Friday. He is not wallowing in self-pity.
“I’ve been in Carlos’ shoes before, and I’m extremely happy for him,” Iannetta, 32, said. “I know what it’s like to get to the big leagues for the first time, to get an opportunity to play and to be successful. There’s no greater feeling. I’m really excited for him. It’s been fun to watch. I hope he keeps it up.”
Even if that means more bench time for Iannetta?
“This game is tough, it’s a really difficult game,” Iannetta said. “I’ve been in situations where I’ve won more playing time and situations where I’ve lost playing time. That’s what happens in this game when you have two guys playing same position and one guy is playing well and the other isn’t.”
With less playing time, Iannetta is working out more in the weight room, running more and taking more swings in the cage than he usually does. He’s doing defensive drills, throwing to bases and catching more bullpen sessions.
“I’m trying to shift the focus to keep my mind occupied,” he said. “If I’m not going to play in games, I want to get in the best physical shape I can.”
Anything that keeps Iannetta, who entered this year with a career .236 average and .357 on-base percentage, from dwelling on his unsightly average and .203 OBP is probably good.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with my physical ability or the caliber of player I am,” Iannetta said. “I’m just going through a tough few weeks where I haven’t seen the ball well. Hitters go through those times. This was accentuated because it was so bad. A few more balls fall in, I’m hitting .190, but when you’re hitting .090 it feels like the end of the world.”