Iannetta's rocky first month a distant memory

Iannetta's rocky first month a distant memory

DENVER -- April continues to haunt Angels catcher Chris Iannetta like a recurring nightmare. The reminder is there every night in bright lights on the JumboTrons of stadiums throughout the country. His batting average is still below .200, baseball's proverbial Mendoza Line, and Iannetta still can't shake the perception that he's having a miserable year -- even though he really only had a miserable first month.

"I'm actually doing better all-around," Iannetta said, "and it's being deemed as one of the worst seasons I've ever had because April went so bad."

"Bad" is an understatement.

Iannetta, mythologized by Angels fans for his ability to draw walks, reached base in only 13 of the 63 times he came to bat. He finished his final April before free agency with a .093/.206/.111 slash line. Four days later, rookie catcher Carlos Perez was called up to take away his playing time.

"My timing was off, for whatever reason," Iannetta said. "It caused me not to recognize pitches."

From the day Perez was called up to the start of Wednesday's game, though, Iannetta sports a .377 on-base percentage that is tied for 27th among players with at least 120 plate appearances -- and only seven points lower than Mike Trout. His .250/.377/.400 slash line in that span is pretty much comparable with his career mark heading into 2015: .236/.357/.414.

And Iannetta has added a new wrinkle to his game: He's framing pitches significantly better.

Iannetta ranks ninth among Major League catchers in gaining additional strikes by virtue of his framing, according to the metric used by Baseball Prospectus. From 2011-14, he ranked 107th, 100th, 115th and 87th, respectively.

The 32-year-old wasn't even aware of the numbers until the end of last season. He spent the spring poring through video, talking with umpires and watching the best pitch-framers in the game and came to the conclusion that he was creating "a false bottom," which means his relaxation point before catching a pitch was too high, creating the illusion that the bottom of the strike zone was higher than reality.

"I'm proud of that," Iannetta said of the strides he's made with his receiving. "My goal was to finish in the top 10."

Iannetta is pretty much the everyday catcher again, starting nine of the Angels' last 13 games while Perez -- .257 on-base percentage in 114 plate appearances -- still tries to figure out Major League pitching.

But the next time he comes to bat, the scoreboard will still read ".194" for his batting average.

"The aggregate picture, that's for the fans," Iannetta said. "They're going to have their opinion no matter what. If they look at the scoreboard and say that I'm having a bad year, they're entitled for that. If they look a little bit deeper, they'll realize I just had a really bad month. And that's over."

Worth noting

Jered Weaver (inflammation in his left hip) threw an extended bullpen session on Wednesday and is slated to pitch a simulated game from Safeco Field in Seattle on Saturday. The Angels could have a tough rotation decision on their hands given Andrew Heaney's success, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia ruled out the possibility of a six-man rotation.

• Starting-pitching prospect Nate Smith, ranked seventh in the Angels' system by MLB.com, has been selected to the U.S. roster for the Pan American Games, which will take place in Toronto from Friday to July 19. Players not on a Major League 40-man roster are eligible. Angels special assistant Marcel Lachemann will serve as the club's pitching coach.

• The Angels have signed 39 of their 40 Draft picks, with the only exception being Jonah Dipoto, son of former general manager Jerry Dipoto, whom the organization knew would opt to attend college when it selected him in the 38th round. For the international signing period, the Angels are left with $700,000 -- the fixed amount every team gets and cannot be traded.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.