Iannetta inches out of slump with single

Angels catcher has tried going back to basics

Iannetta inches out of slump with single

ANAHEIM -- Chris Iannetta's sixth-inning single Thursday night wasn't much, just a ball grounded through the middle, a blip in the Angels' 8-2 loss to the White Sox. But it ended an 0-for-17 skid for Iannetta, who'd been mired in an ugly 3-for-43 slump since July 24, which dropped his batting average to .180 coming into the series finale at Angel Stadium.

Iannetta had only played once in the last week, and he'd worked with hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen while the team was in Kansas City.

"This whole thing's been really weird. It has. I've felt really good at the plate this whole stretch," Iannetta said. "I can't identify anything mechanically that I'm doing -- and I've changed a bunch of things up since then. I've put myself in the simplest position possible to just compete. I abandoned all my rhythm techniques; I abandoned everything that I normally do; I just put the bat on my shoulder, take it off, step -- Little League style -- and just try to get the barrel to it."

When Scioscia asked what he wanted to work on in the hitting session, Iannetta didn't mention anything technical. He responded, "All I want to do is get a good pitch to hit and hit a low line drive. I've been hitting too many balls in the air."

This slump, Iannetta said, isn't like the one he went through in April, which left him hitting .093 after a month, without a home run. He'd felt like he turned his season around. Over the next 2 1/2 months, through July 22, Iannetta hit .252 with a .365 on-base percentage and seven homers.

Even after Thursday, with a clean hit into center field, Iannetta's finding himself wondering if his timing has gone wrong.

"I popped up two balls today that I thought I took really good passes at, and perhaps it's just a timing thing, because I look on video and I don't see anything mechanically that I'm doing wrong," Iannetta said. "I'm underneath the ball a lot, and I'm not quite sure why."

Iannetta's fly-ball rate has, in fact, skyrocketed to 70.4 percent since July 24, according to FanGraphs. His line-drive rate? Zero percent. From May 1 to July 22, Iannetta's fly-ball rate was 43.4 percent, his line-drive rate 16.2 percent.

Iannetta bouncing back with his bat would be a big boost for the Angels, who need both him and rookie Carlos Perez to play. They also need the veteran's defensive presence -- Iannetta's pitch framing has greatly improved since 2014, and it's much better than Perez's. Iannetta's framing has created 42.9 extra strike calls this year, per Baseball Prospectus, 11th best in the Majors, and well more than Perez's 10.8, which ranks 25th.

Scioscia, for one, does think that Iannetta's timing has been the prominent issue, Thursday included.

"He's still searching," Scioscia said after the game. "He looked like he was getting loaded a little bit late tonight. But he got a hit, and any time you're in one of those prolonged streaks where you're not finding holes, it's good to get one through there. Hopefully he'll relax a little bit and start to swing like he can."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.