7/4/2013 9:39 P.M. ET
Conger's progress leads to more playing time
By William Boor / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When the 2013 season began, there was no doubt Chris Iannetta was the Angels' starting catcher.
However, in the past 20 games, Iannetta has split time with Hank Conger. Including Thursday's series finale between the Cardinals and Angels, Iannetta and Conger have had 10 starts apiece, with Conger starting three of the last four contests.
"There's a bit of a time-sharing that's been going on here in the last month, and I think it's been beneficial to both players," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Both players want to be out there as much as they can, and it's taken a little pressure off Chris and given Hank a chance to contribute."
Over his past 10 games, Conger is hitting .290 with five RBIs -- two of which came via a home run in Wednesday's game -- and is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.
"I think the biggest thing right now, for me, is still keeping the mindset of just showing up to the field and not getting caught up in whether I'm going to be playing the next day," Conger said. "Show up, look at the lineup and then take my routine from there."
While Conger has always been able to hit, his defense had been a bit of a question mark. During Spring Training, Conger's throwing became an area of concern.
But, the catcher has spent a lot of time working to correct a release point he said used to be "all out of whack."
"From when he first signed with us, you're seeing a constant improvement in becoming that Major League receiver that he's becoming," Scioscia said. "His throwing has taken a 180-degree turn from where he was in Spring Training. He's put a lot of time into it."
Conger threw out two would-be basestealers in Wednesday's game and has caught five of the last six runners who have attempted to steal on him.
"It really hasn't been an overnight-type thing," Conger said. "Our job as catchers is for us to get the ball and try to put it on the bag. It's a two-way street, the pitcher has to be quick and then we have to make an accurate throw. So, I don't really try to worry about catching the guy stealing, but just making sure I come up and make a good throw on the bag."
Fourth offers Kohn time to reflect on family's legacy
ANAHEIM -- When Michael Kohn tweeted the lyrics to "Proud To Be an American" on Thursday morning, he became one of millions to tweet something patriotic on the Fourth of July.
Kohn, like many Americans, has a special place in his heart for Independence Day, thanks to a family history richly rooted in the armed forces and government service.
Both of Kohn's grandfathers served the country -- one in the Army and one in the Navy. His paternal grandfather was a three-star admiral in the Navy who served 38 years, a distinguished aviator who flew 310 missions during the war in Vietnam.
I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. #happy4th- Michael Kohn (@MichaelKohn58) July 4, 2013
"I think about him every day, but especially on Fourth of July and what he gave up for the country," Kohn said of his grandfather that passed away in 2009.
While Kohn's grandfathers served the country via the military, several other family members did so via the government.
Kohn's grandfather's brother, Bob Sheheen, was a member of South Carolina's House of Representatives from 1977-2000.
And his second cousin, Vincent Sheheen, is making second run at the South Carolina governor's office next year.
For a family that has so many political and military ties, it is only natural to have a large celebration on Independence Day.
"Everybody goes up to the lake, on my mom's side, and we do a fish fry," Kohn said. "With extended family, it's like 50 people. We do a fish fry, shoot fireworks and all the kids swim. I used to do that when I was younger. Obviously I can't now, but it's a great holiday to thank those guys that allow us to play baseball everyday for a living."
Although Kohn has to look no further than his family tree to find people to thank, he certainly has not forgotten about everyone else in the armed forces.
"It's a special day to me to honor not only my grandfathers, but the people that are serving right now for us," Kohn said.
Puig fan Scioscia says he's not an All-Star yet
ANAHEIM -- While Angels manager Mike Scioscia does not feel Yasiel Puig has been in the Major Leagues long enough to deserve an All-Star bid, he is not discounting the abilities of the Dodgers' young phenom.
"If he's not an All-Star this year, he's going to be an All-Star for years to come" Scioscia said. "But I do think you have to play enough to earn a spot on the All-Star team."
As the baseball world is seemingly captivated with Puig's every move, it is easy to forget Puig entered Thursday having only played in 28 games and recorded 116 plate appearances.
Scioscia said Puig's instant success and fanfare is similar to what Mike Trout experienced a season ago.
"I think there are a lot of things you can draw parallels from in what Puig is doing and what Mike did last year," Scioscia said.
Although Trout made the All-Star game as a rookie, he entered the All-Star break with 290 plate appearances - roughly double what Puig will likely have at the same juncture, and he hit .341 with 12 home runs.
Regardless of Puig's All-Star fate, Scioscia said Southern California is home to two players who will be prominent in baseball for a long, long time.
"Over the course of the next 15 years, God willing these guys stay healthy, you're going to have two guys that open up a lot of eyes when you look back at all the numbers," Scioscia said.
• Scioscia has yet to reveal Saturday's starter, but Michael Roth was not listed in the bullpen of Thursday's lineup card. Scioscia said they Angels are looking over a few options, but at this point, none of those options include calling a player up from the Minor Leagues. Roth was not listed in the bullpen during prior to Wednesday's contest either, but wound up pitching an inning.
• Injured relief pitcher Ryan Madson threw another bullpen session Thursday, but will still have to throw a few more before the Angels decide on the next step.
• Conger served as the grand marshal during the Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade on Thursday morning.
"It was fun, a lot of fun," Conger said. "I grew up less than a mile away from Main Street, so for me to experience the parade firsthand, and be in the parade, was really exciting."
• In honor of Independence Day, Naval special warfare operator Ronnie Harrison threw out Thursday's ceremonial first pitch. The Angels also asked all fans in attendance with military experience to stand and be recognized.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.