09/22/10 10:50 PM ET
Walden works way into Angels' plans
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Conger making up for lost time
ANAHEIM -- Hank Conger -- Hyun Choi Conger on his birth certificate -- is moving on up. This has been a breakthrough year for the 22-year-old catcher whose work behind the plate and with the bat has been impressive since his recall from Triple-A Salt Lake.Conger, most importantly, is 4-0 in his starts with a 1.50 catcher's ERA. He drew Jered Weaver for his Major League debut in Cleveland, driving in a pair of runs with his first big league hit. That was his first shutout. The second arrived on Tuesday night, when he took Ervin Santana through nine high-quality innings against the Rangers. Weaver and Santana both spoke highly about Conger's defense and pitch selection. "Hank has definitely shown us the ability to do what a catcher needs to do," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, one of the game's definitive authorities on the catching trade. "His next challenge is to do it for a full season and a career. He's shown the tools, caught very well. He's done a great job communicating with the pitchers. He's getting his first taste of it and doing a great job." Conger's one drawback is his relative lack of professional experience, owing to early-career injuries to his throwing shoulder and back. "His first couple years, he was banged up," Scioscia said. "He's not even caught 200 games in his career yet. You can have the best instructors in the world, and it's not going to bridge that gap in experience. Hank's going to have to go play winter ball. "I was 21 when I came up [with the Dodgers in 1980], but I had caught close to 500 games, including winter ball. As he's healed up, he's really emerged into a high-end prospect as a catcher. We'll see where it takes him."
Rivera looking for some luck
ANAHEIM -- In the past month, Juan Rivera has had a walk-off home run stolen by the Rays' B.J. Upton and a grand slam taken away by the Rangers' Julio Borbon, both at Angel Stadium."Not much luck," Rivera said, grinning. "It hasn't been a lucky year for the whole team, not just me." Rivera was back in the lineup on Wednesday night in the series finale against the Rangers and southpaw C.J. Wilson. Rivera came into the game batting .429 against Wilson with a homer in 14 at-bats. "I've been feeling pretty good, confident," Rivera said. His comfort level is reflected in a 7-for-19 surge that pulled him out of a 2-for-33 skid. His .249 batting average is a long way from his .285 career average coming into the season. He batted .285 last season with 25 homers and 88 RBIs. He has 13 homers and 50 RBIs this season. Rivera has been better in right field than left this season, showing off his strong arm with eight assists. He was in right for the series finale, with Torii Hunter taking the designated-hitter spot in an all-righty lineup.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.