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Angels' Conger making the most of his opportunity

April 15, 2011 |  3:51 pm

Hank-conger_275 Hank Conger wasn't the only one who figured he'd start this season at Salt Lake City. He hit just .231 in spring training, more than 70 points below Bobby Wilson, his chief competition for the roster spot reserved for a backup catcher.

But with the Angels wracked by injury coming into the regular season, Manager Mike Scioscia kept the switch-hitting Conger (pictured at right) on the roster, and he's made the most of the opportunity, batting .286 and playing splendid defense. And he's done that in twice as many at-bats as Wilson, the man who figured to split playing time with regular catcher Jeff Mathis.

"Right now I've just been trying to make the most of an opportunity," said Conger, who was in the lineup for Friday's opener of a three-game series with the White Sox in frigid, rainy Chicago. "One of the biggest things I've been doing is getting a lot of swings when I haven't been playing. Taking extra BP on the field and in the cages during the game as well. Just trying to stay sharp."

It's tougher to practice defense. But Conger's made great strides there as well.

"It's been coming along. I worked really hard in spring training on defense," he said. "I come to the ballpark just trying to be ready, just in case. You never want to show up at the ballpark and say 'I'm not going to play' and then all of a sudden you see your name in the lineup. You just try to be focused every day."

The cold rain that had been falling most of the afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field stopped about 90 minutes before game time, and the weather forecasts call for the front of wet weather to stay to the north into the late evening, increasing the chances that the White Sox and Angels will get Friday's game in.

The lineups:

Angels

SS -- Maicer Izturis

2B -- Howie Kendrick

DH -- Bobby Abreu

RF -- Torii Hunter

LF -- Vernon Wells

3B -- Alberto Callaspo

1B -- Mark Trumbo

C -- Hank Conger

CF -- Peter Bourjos

P -- Jered Weaver

Chicago White Sox

LF -- Juan Pierre

2B -- Gordon Beckham

DH -- Adam Dunn

1B -- Paul Konerko

RF -- Carlos Quentin

CF -- Alex Rios

C -- A.J. Pierzynski

SS -- Alexei Ramirez

3B -- Brent Morel

P -- Philip Humber

-- Kevin Baxter in Chicago

RELATED:

Angels feel lucky to have two left-handed relievers

Angels players to reban in warm Arizona rather than chilly Chicago

Photo credit: J. Meric / Getty Images

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