ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels acquired catcher Chris Iannetta from the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in a trade for right-hander Tyler Chatwood.

New Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto made his first significant move by addressing arguably the Angels’ biggest deficiency, dealing a top pitching prospect and acquiring a veteran candidate to solve Los Angeles’ catching woes.

“He’s a leader behind the plate,” said Dipoto, a former Rockies pitcher and executive. “I think the pitchers in Colorado always liked throwing to Chris. This guy has a presence. He fits in a clubhouse, he fits on the field, and he fits in the lineup.”

Iannetta batted .238 last season with 14 homers, 55 RBIs and a .370 on-base percentage, second among NL catchers. He also made just two errors in 112 games during his sixth season with Colorado, and solid defense is a requirement at the position for Angels manager Mike Scioscia, the longtime Dodgers catcher.

An hour after learning he was leaving his only professional organization, Iannetta said he’s eager to learn from Scioscia, who’s known for active supervision of his catchers.

“If I was going to get traded, I couldn’t be more thankful for the organization I was traded to,” Iannetta said. “I’ll develop even more under someone with that character and background.”

Iannetta has never been an elite hitter during six seasons with the Rockies, but he’s better than what the Angels had at the position last season after trading slugger Mike Napoli, who had an outstanding year while helping the Texas Rangers beat out Los Angeles for their second straight AL West title.

The Angels struggled to get even meager offense behind the plate, and the deficiencies of their three catchers impeded the entire lineup. Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger provided solid defense, but had miserable seasons at the plate, none batting above .209 while combining for just 10 homers and 49 RBIs — less than Iannetta managed by himself in Colorado.

Iannetta also is eager to catch the Angels’ sturdy rotation, led by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

“I’ve faced all of those guys, and I have a ton of respect for all three,” Iannetta said. “To be behind the plate for all three of those guys, I couldn’t be more excited.”

To get Iannetta, the Angels parted with Chatwood, a Southern California native who won’t turn 22 until Dec. 16. He went 6-11 with a 4.75 ERA as a rookie this year, spending much of the season as the Angels’ fifth starter.

Chatwood slumped down the stretch and struggled with his control in the majors after a surprisingly early promotion when starters Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro were ineffective. The rookie walked 71 batters in 142 innings.

“It’s not very easy to trade away a young pitcher like Tyler Chatwood, especially a guy who is relatively local,” Dipoto said. “This one made a lot of sense for us in my mind. It answered a need at the big league level and gave us the kind of guy that fits in our clubhouse and brings a presence behind the plate that (Scioscia) will appreciate.”

– By Greb Beacham, AP Sports Writer

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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