With the regular season one week away, the Los Angeles Angels must figure out who their backup catcher will be on Opening Day. Hank Conger entered camp with the job intact, but inconsistency behind the plate has forced the Angels to look at Chris Snyder.
Conger has gone through stretches where he has made a significant amount of bad throws in camp, and that has made Los Angeles very nervous. He has not been able to throw runners out on the base paths and no longer appears mentally stable enough to handle the role. He must clear his mind and allow his arm to move in the proper motion that it has done so many times before.
With Conger struggling mightily defensively, the Angels decided it was best to sign Snyder to a Minor League contract. The nine-year veteran has the highest fielding percentage (.998) in Major League Baseball history. Los Angeles general manager Jerry Dipoto is very fond of Snyder, as the two worked together as members of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, and is confident in the 32-year-old’s abilities.
“He’s caught some very difficult pitchers to handle, both physically and emotionally,” Dipoto told Los Angeles Daily News. “He has done a fantastic job.
“Randy Johnson, throwing left-handed slicers going 100 mph with a slider that can fall off the face of the earth. Brandon Webb, whose ball moved more than any other right-handed pitcher I think I’ve ever seen, and Chris handled these guys very well. Curt Schilling, the challenges of following a game plan with Curt as a young catcher in the big leagues trying to cut your teeth and having a guy who was so ahead of the program as far as understanding scouting reports, video, dissecting an opponent or a lineup – and Chris absorbed that at a very young age.”
There is no question Snyder is capable of handling the job. However, the Angels are hoping Conger can work through his struggles because they believe he has potential to be a tremendous asset for many years to come.
The battle for the backup catcher spot is going to come down to the wire. Simply put, Los Angeles is going to go with whichever player shows more over the next week. If Conger still cannot get his mind right, the team will have no choice but to go with Snyder.