Iannetta ready for improvement at the plate

Catcher trying to break out of slump, says it affects his outlook

Iannetta ready for improvement at the plate

OAKLAND -- It's still so very early, and Chris Iannetta is far from the only Angels hitter still struggling at the plate as April comes to a close. But boy is he struggling. Like really, really struggling.

His batting average, 21 games into the Angels' season, is an unseemly .093.

In 54 at-bats, he's managed five hits.

"It's early in the season," Iannetta said, "but for me, it feels like it's been six years."

The Angels' catcher hasn't felt right all year. It began in Spring Training, when Iannetta posted a .214/.292/.429 slash line, and it spilled into the first month of the regular season. The 32-year-old began the year with a career .357 on-base percentage, tied for seventh highest among those with at least 2,500 plate appearances as a catcher from 2006-14. His .765 OPS in that same span was tied for 10th.

So far this year, Iannetta has reached base in only 13 of 63 plate appearances. Among players with at least 50 at-bats, he holds baseball's lowest batting average.

"Mechanically, I feel fine," Iannetta said. "I'm just not seeing it; I'm not recognizing the pitch. Every decision I make seems to be the wrong one.

"No one is more frustrated than I am. I don't care what a fan says to me in the stands, I don't care what anybody says in a blog or a tweet, whatever it might be. Nobody is more frustrated than me."

Iannetta made a lighthearted comment about his slump on Twitter, posting the following message:

That was nearly three weeks ago.

"I definitely didn't anticipate it lasting this long," said Iannetta, who got a mental break from the starting lineup on Tuesday and sat out Thursday's day game because it was a quick turnaround from Wednesday night.

"It's getting to the point where I'm just going to start laughing about it. I mean there's not much else I can do. There really isn't. It's just coming to the park, doing my work and really going for it. It's killing me. It definitely is. I care about this game; I love this game. It affects the way you think, it affects the way your outlook is."

Iannetta has so far made big strides with regards to pitch framing, a major goal heading into the season. He's gone from ranking no higher than 87th in getting additional called strikes the past four years to ranking second so far this year, according to Baseball Prospectus' tool.

But Iannetta's strongest tool, pitch recognition in the batter's box, continues to elude him.

"I know it's going to turn around," Iannetta said. "I do. I believe that. I don't think this is the end of my career, I'm never going to play baseball again. It's going to turn around. I expect it to turn around every time I show up to the yard."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.