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Hank Conger gets third straight start at catcher for Angels

April 16, 2011 | 12:12 pm

Hank-conger2_300 Coming out of spring training the assumption was that Jeff Mathis had won the starting job behind the plate for Angels, Bobby Wilson would be his backup and Hank Conger would be in triple A if the Angels hadn't placed so many people on the disabled list.

A little more than two weeks later Conger is the No. 1 catcher, Mathis is upset over a lack of playing time and Wilson is wondering what the heck happened.

Conger, the rookie from Huntington Beach, was in the starting lineup for the third game in a row Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. The switch-hitter has played well defensively and is hitting a modest .235, but that's better than Mathis (.192) and Wilson (.143 in seven at-bats).

A clearly upset Mathis declined to speak to reporters after a closed-door meeting with Manager Mike Scioscia on Saturday, while Wilson choose his words carefully.

"I worked hard. I just tried to put myself in a good position," said Wilson, who shed 30 pounds in the offseason and reported to spring training in great shape. "Nobody wants to sit on the bench. Everybody wants to play. If you're here and you're happy or content just sitting on the bench I think there's something wrong with you.

"I wish I could play more but I don't make out the lineup. Scioscia makes out the lineup. Scioscia's been through this. You're got to trust that it's all going to work out."

However, Wilson made it clear he's cheering for Conger to play well. He just wants the opportunity to play better.

"We're tight," he said. "I was always brought that you root for your teammates. You want that guy to go 4 for 4. And next time you get in there you want to go 5 for 5 and outdo him. That's what competition is.

"It's never ever going to be about 'oh I hope this guy fails so I can get a chance to succeed.' "

The lineups:


DH -- Maicer Izturis

2B -- Howie Kendrick

LF -- Bobby Abreu

RF -- Torii Hunter

CF -- Vernon Wells

3B -- Alberto Callaspo

1B -- Mark Trumbo

C -- Hank Conger

SS -- Brandon Wood

P -- Tyler Chatwood

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 -- Gavin Floyd


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-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Chicago

Photo: Angels catcher Hank Conger catches a foul ball in the third inning Friday night in Chicago. Credit:Jerry Lai / US Presswire