04/25/12 8:58 PM ET
Catching prospect Conger on DL with elbow injury
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
"Just a light sprain in the elbow," Conger said via text message on Wednesday night. "I'll be good. Should be back in a couple of weeks. Nothing serious."
Conger, the best backstop in the Angels' Minor League system, batted .295 and made some strides with his throwing -- the one area he has to shore up before being deemed an everyday big league catcher -- through 18 Spring Training games.
In 13 games before suffering the injury, the 24-year-old switch-hitter was batting .357 with two homers and eight RBIs for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.
John Hester, a 28-year-old with 53 games of big league experience who was signed to a Minor League deal recently, will split the catching duties with Robinzon Diaz until Conger returns.
Despite batting woes, no plan to summon Trout
ST. PETERSBURG -- It's tough not to be tempted.
The Angels have struggled mightily on offense, heading into Wednesday's game against the Rays with the 21st-ranked OPS in baseball and just one home run in their last six games, while premier prospect Mike Trout has lit it up in Triple-A.
But manager Mike Scioscia says talk of Trout coming up, and forcing him into an everyday role the Angels would have to create, is still "a little premature."
"Obviously, if stuff continues to be stagnant, you're going to put more weight on some of those decisions," Scioscia said. "But right now, I think we're trying to find an identity to this team."
Trout missed the vast majority of Spring Training with a nasty viral infection and then shoulder tendinitis. But the 20-year-old, five-tool outfielder -- who came into the season as the third-ranked prospect in baseball by MLB.com -- has continued to surge in the Minors, putting up a .419/.483/.649 slash line through his first 19 games with the Salt Lake Bees.
"Obviously, when you're playing that well, you tend to push a door open for yourself," Scioscia said. "Right now, though, he's playing in Triple-A, he's playing well, and he's going to continue to until something changes."
The question is, what would have to change -- or, how long do the big league struggles have to continue before the Angels feel a need to pull the trigger?
All indications from Scioscia and the front office are that a move isn't imminent. One big obstacle is that an everyday role would have to be created. That would mean a critical player gets optioned (Peter Bourjos? Mark Trumbo?) or an expensive one gets released (Bobby Abreu? Vernon Wells?).
Trout struggled a bit through two stints in the big leagues last year, batting .220 in 40 games, but his Triple-A reports have been nothing but sparkling.
"Mike is not the finished product," Scioscia insisted. "He's still learning stuff down there by playing every day. His skills are where they need to be and he's very productive, and at some point, when there's a role that's significant, he's certainly going to be one of the guys considered. But right now, he's still applying himself down in Triple-A."
And right now, rather than make such a drastic move so early, the Angels prefer to give this much-hyped offense more time to find itself.
The track records suggest it will -- at some point.
"We need to see what these guys are going to do when they get into their game," Scioscia said. "It's not all one guy. ... There's a lot of guys that need to be more consistent out there, both on the offensive side and we talked about the bullpen. It's probably not a simple thing of Mike Trout coming up and being the answer right now. There's a lot of things on this team that I think we have to look at."
B. Wilson patiently waits to play in hometown
ST. PETERSBURG -- Bobby Wilson has been with the Angels since 2008, has appeared in 120 games and spent the entirety of last season in the big leagues. But he has never once played at Tropicana Field.
To most, that would be nothing more than a statistical oddity. But it means a lot more to Wilson, who grew up 10 minutes north in Seminole, Fla., where he makes his offseason home, and always has a bunch of friends and family at the stadium when the Angels visit the Rays.
Sometimes it's 20, sometimes it's close to 50 and sometimes it's more than 100 members of the Wilson contingent who take their seats -- the vast majority of which are self-purchased -- anticipating the day they see one of their own play for the Angels.
So far, though, they've been left disappointed.
"It's nice to see the family and stuff, but it'd be nice to be able to play in front of them," Wilson said. "I think I've been here for five or six series and I haven't played in any of them. They're just patiently waiting."
Wilson was born in Dunedin, Fla., attended Seminole High School and then went to St. Petersburg College. The Rays didn't come into existence until 1998, when Wilson was already 15, so he didn't technically grow up a Rays fan. But he does like seeing them do well, just because they're from his area.
Wilson estimates there are 150 people here to see him in this three-game series, in which Chris Iannetta has caught the first two games.
He's really hoping he plays Thursday afternoon -- a good chance considering the quick turnaround.
"It'd be nice to play in front of them," said Wilson, who has hit .429 in four games. "Maybe. We'll see what happens. You never know."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.