Iannetta ready for spring time with Angels' pitchers
Veteran catcher will get acquainted, build strong bond with new contingent of arms
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Chris Iannetta arrived at Angels camp a year ago he was the new guy. Iannetta was acquired via a trade with the Colorado Rockies and was pegged to be the Angels' starting catcher.
But as the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher is so vital to the success of a pitcher and a baseball team, it was Iannetta's job to develop strong ties with the Angels' rotation -- even if he was the new one.
In 2013, Iannetta, entering his second Spring Training with the Angels, is no longer the new guy, but his spring task has not changed. The club added Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton to the rotation while Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson became new members of the bullpen, and once again Iannetta will spend this time getting to know a new crop of pitchers.
"That's what Spring Training is for," Iannetta said. "It's like any friendship. You start with the 'hello' and you get to know them off the field and in the clubhouse. That translates onto the field and it just keeps getting better every day like any other friendship or relationship in life. You get to know them better the more you're around them."
Iannetta is already comfortable with two of the Angels' starters, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver, but is not familiar with the new trio.
Replacing 60 percent of a starting rotation is a big move to make, but Iannetta is impressed with the group and looks forward to working with them. Manager Mike Scioscia believes the relationships between Iannetta and the pitching staff will improve with time, but also knows developing those relationships is something that can't be ignored.
"We have to put some more time in with our pitcher-catcher communication and that relationship," Scioscia said earlier this spring. "We have three guys coming in [to the rotation] and they have to get comfortable with the dynamics that are going to make them do well -- and that involves the catcher."
Scioscia, Iannetta and all the members of the Angels' pitching staff will spend time developing trust and familiarity, but that does not mean it will detract from their primary focus, preparing for the 2013 season.
"It goes hand in hand," Iannetta said. "Learning the guys is part of getting myself ready when we do our defensive drills. When we do our offensive drills, that's when I get myself ready."
Offensively, Iannetta is coming off a season in which he hit .240 -- his highest average since 2008 -- with an on-base percentage of .332. However, Iannetta played in only 79 games last season because of wrist surgery and a forearm strain.
The seven-year veteran was rewarded with a three-year, $15.55 million contract during the offseason. Although the catcher enters 2013 with full contract stability -- something he did not have a season ago with a mutual option for 2013 -- his mindset has not changed.
"It's a little bit different, not too much," Iannetta said. "I know what needs to be done. I know Spring Training isn't about making a team, or at least I've been fortunate enough where I haven't been in that position for a few years now. It's about getting ready for Opening Day. I view Spring Training as getting my body ready and learning as much as I can about the staff."
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.