TEMPE, Ariz. — This time last year, Carlos Perez was poised to become an everyday catcher. Now, he’s fighting for playing time, with a reworked swing.
Perez hit .209 with a .244 on-base percentage in 2016, a drop from his encouraging performance in 2015. As a result, he’s now bringing a leg kick into his swing to try to rediscover his timing.
“He’s loading better,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “His path to the ball is better.”
Perez has a homer and a triple in his last two Cactus League games, but he’s still hitting just .208 in the small sample of 24 at-bats in Arizona.
“I feel great this year,” Perez said. “With a new mentality.”
Last season was a difficult one mentally for Perez, who came in with such high expectations after he had hit .250 in 2015, including .333 in September.
“At the end of ’15 he played well for us down the stretch,” Scioscia said. “He caught well and got some big hits for us. He’s not too far removed from that, but there are some things last year he struggled with.”
Perez, who was the catcher on opening night, hit so poorly that he lost his job, and then in July he was briefly demoted to Triple-A.
“Nobody wants to get sent down,” he said. “But I just tried to work hard and get back to the big leagues. I think I played pretty good when I was sent down.”
Perez hit .359 in 10 games at Triple-A and returned to the majors. He finished the season mostly backing up Jett Bandy. Bandy was then traded over the winter for Martin Maldonado, who currently appears to be slightly ahead of him on the depth chart.
Jefry Marte’s assimilation to left field depends, it seems, on his bat.
An infielder, Marte spent significant time in left field in 2016, as the Angels struggled to fill that spot and wanted to get his bat into the lineup. This spring, Marte has not yet played left in a game, although he’s worked out there a little, Scioscia said.
When asked if Marte still could…