Perez contributing at crucial juncture

Catcher's offensive surge makes him even more valuable

Perez contributing at crucial juncture

SEATTLE -- Carlos Perez is now "twice the catcher he was when he came to Spring Training," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners, and it wasn't because he had just seen Perez go 3-for-4 with two doubles against Felix Hernandez.

"His leadership," Scioscia said, "his confidence, understanding the pitchers, all the stuff that is part of the development of the catcher."

Perez was basically a throw-in in the trade that sent homegrown Hank Conger to the Astros for cost-controlled starter Nick Tropeano in November, an added piece because the Angels needed to supplement their catching depth. He arrived in Spring Training with little to no chance of landing the job as Chris Iannetta's backup, and now, with the season at its most critical juncture, Perez is playing every day.

The second game of a three-game series from Safeco Field marked Perez's sixth straight start and his eighth in the last nine games. He's thrown out a runner attempting to steal in four of his last five games -- including Ketel Marte in Tuesday's first inning -- and is batting .333 in September, with three doubles and five walks.

"I think I'm showing them that I'm taking control of the game," Perez said in Spanish, "that the energy I'm bringing is sort of setting a tone in the game."

Perez came to the Angels with a plus arm and solid defensive skills. Overall presence behind the plate -- directing the infielders, monitoring baserunners, engaging with his pitcher and conveying that energy that he talked about -- was the main thing Scioscia wanted to see out of the 24-year-old rookie.

Scioscia credited bullpen coach Steve Soliz for "doing an incredible job of bringing him along."

"Early on, I was a little timid," Perez admitted. "But now I know the pitchers, now I know the other players, and I think that's also part of the confidence that I'm playing with now."

Perez still has some work to do offensively, as evidenced by a meager .283 on-base percentage. But for Scioscia, offensive production is secondary to managing a game when it comes to his catchers -- and that's the area he feels Perez has grown the most.

"We've seen a lot of growth," Scioscia said, "and hopefully he'll continue to grow."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for 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.