Healthy Hank

Injuries did not restrict Conger in Angels camp this year

TEMPE, ARIZ.—Hank Conger could find himself in Anaheim sometime this summer—not that he's lobbying for the chance.

"I've still got a lot of work to do," he said.

Conger, 22, is the Angels' top prospect, and he spent a few weeks with the major league club as a non-roster invitee to spring training. He's done that twice before, but not without some sort of health restriction.

"This is the first year I went in healthy and ready to play," he said.

Conger is a catcher who needs to catch. He has proven that he can hit—he batted .295/.369/.424 at Double-A Arkansas last season, at an age many players still would be in college—but has never caught 100 games in a season.

In 2006, when the Angels selected him in the first round from nearby Huntington Beach High and signed him for $1.35 million, his pro debut was shortened because of a hamate bone injury. He had back and hamstring injuries in 2007, then a torn labrum in 2008, restricting him to DH duties for that year and a chunk of last year too. But he did catch 87 games last year, and he caught in the Arizona Fall League too.

He also joined Mike Butcher's winter camp for the Angels' top pitching prospects, working on conditioning as well as catching.

Since he was drafted, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Conger has heard all about how the Angels might move him to another position, but so far they have indicated no interest in doing so. If he gets on base and stays off the disabled list, he could be close enough to Anaheim to help the Angels out of a summer jam.

"There's always thoughts about that, but my No. 1 concern is to stay healthy," Conger said. "If I try to think about that, it's unnecessary pressure I put on myself."


• Righthander Bobby Cassevah rejoined the Angels after failing to make the Athletics' major league roster as a Rule 5 draft pick. Cassevah, 24, went 3-7, 3.68 in 57 games at Arkansas last year.

• In addition to Conger, the first rounds of Angel cuts included catchers Anel de los Santos, Alberto Rosario and Brian Walker; infielders Alexi Amarista, Ryan Mount, Efren Navarro, Abel Nieves, Andrew Romine, Nate Sutton and Mark Trumbo; outfielders Brad Coon and Jeremy Moore; and pitchers Trevor Bell, Tyler Chatwood, Travis Chick, Michael Kohn, Robert Mosebach, Kevin Nabors, Trevor Reckling, Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith, Andrew Taylor and Rich Thompson.