Catcher Perez hoping to impress Angels

Catcher Perez hoping to impress Angels

DETROIT -- Angels catcher Carlos Perez was out of the starting lineup for Wedneesday night's game, but he'll probably be back in the lineup on Thursday afternoon. At that point, the 24-year-old rookie will have been behind the plate for 14 of the club's 25 games this month, largely because Chris Iannetta is in a slump and the team is desperate for wins.

But there's another layer to this: The Angels need to find out if Perez is capable of filling an everyday role.

Iannetta can become a free agent at season's end and would enter a relatively deep pool of available catchers, a free-agent list that will also include Matt Wieters, John Jaso, Alex Avila, Brayan Pena, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski and Jeff Mathis.

In short, the Angels will have options. But they'll also have a lot of holes to fill -- potentially third base, left field, designated hitter and second base, as well -- and don't figure to have much payroll flexibility to do it.

"I have to show them that I can be an everyday player," Perez said. "Hopefully that happens."

Acquired for depth purposes in the November trade that sent Hank Conger to the Astros for Nick Tropeano, Perez has impressed the Angels defensively but hasn't reached base frequently enough to warrant a 100- or 115-game workload. His slash line is .224/.263/.322 in 188 plate appearances -- the Major League average for catchers is .241/.304/.383 -- but his on-base percentage has improved to .292 this month.

"Sometimes you lose your timing when you don't play a lot," said Perez, who batted .259/.323/.385 in Triple-A last year. "As you play more frequently, you start getting your timing, you recognize pitches better. I think that's really important."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a former catcher himself, believes Perez has "really good hands, he's quick, he's got a really nice arm stroke, really good head."

"But it's like being an astronaut," Scioscia said of evaluating whether someone is ready for an everyday role behind the plate. "You train for it, but until you get out there and you do it, it's tough to evaluate what you need to work on."

Worth noting

• Matt Shoemaker will be called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to start Thursday's game, Scioscia said. Shoemaker was optioned after giving up 13 runs over a two-start stretch, largely because the Angels needed bullpen help, then gave up three unearned runs in six innings in the Minors. Right-hander Drew Rucinski was optioned after Wednesday's 5-0 loss to create roster space.

• Second baseman Grant Green, who tweaked his right knee in the second inning on Tuesday, didn't take batting practice on the field Wednesday but was hopeful of returning to the lineup on Thursday. Green, filling in now that Johnny Giavotella is on the disabled list, called it "a freak accident" and said he's "definitely relieved it's only a day-to-day thing."

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.