As the Los Angeles Angels are off to a slow start offensively to the 2014 season, Chris Iannetta appears to be at the forefront of it all.
This season the 31-year-old is batting a mere .080 (2-of-25) with two RBIs, .160 slugging percentage and seven strikeouts through seven games played. This is a complete 180-degree turnaround from his solid spring training where he batted .289 with three home runs, 11 RBIs, nine walks and 10 runs scored in 18 games.
Although Iannetta’s struggles at the plate are at the beginning of this season, it may call for more playing time for Hank Conger, who over the past couple of years has been progressively appearing in more games. Conger has only played in two games this season, and that number will likely drastically increase in the near future if Iannetta cannot turn it around offensively.
However, what may give the eight-year veteran an extended chance to prove himself will be because he is better defensively than Conger. With that said, Iannetta’s hitting woes in the regular season have seemed to follow him from last year as he batted just .225 with 11 home runs, 39 RBIs and had a career-worst 100 strikeouts in 114 games played.
Iannetta appears to be trending in a steady decline with his hitting, and this combined with his inability to remain healthy throughout the season is not helping his case to remain the team’s starting catcher. At this pace, it is slowly becoming evident that this is Conger’s golden opportunity to show he can be the Halos’ starting catcher of the future.
If nothing less, it will now become a much more even playing field because of Iannetta’s struggles to start the season. Although the 31-year-old still has time to work through his batting slump, it does signal that a change behind the plate may be on the horizon sooner than what was expected.