clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2015 Spring-Training Countdown, Day 24: Henry Blanco

Hank White is back!

Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Up to a week ago, Luis Valbuena was the guy who would have appeared on this countdown day, since he was the most recent occupant of jersey No. 24, from 2012-14. But with Valbuena gone to the Astros in the Dexter Fowler trade, I thought I'd write a bit about a previous No. 24, Henry Blanco, affectionately known around here (and other places around the web) as Hank White.

Blanco was a very good backup catcher for the Cubs from 2005-08. He hit better for the Cubs than for any of the other 10 (yes, 10!) teams he played for: .255/.293/.387 with 27 doubles and 15 home runs in 576 at-bats. That's actually not a bad full season's worth of work for most catchers, and Blanco also provided solid defense and was an excellent mentor to Geovany Soto.

"In an effort to get more left-handed," as the mantra went, Jim Hendry let Blanco go after the 2008 season and replaced him with an assortment of lefthanded-hitting backups, none of whom provided the leadership that Blanco did, nor hit even that well. He was 37 when the Cubs cut him loose and maybe they thought he was done, but he wound up playing parts of six more seasons, hitting .209/.283/.351 with 20 home runs in 632 at-bats over that span. Needless to say, that's far better than Cubs backup catchers hit from 2009-14.

That's why I'm pleased that Hank is back as Cubs quality-control coach. The duties of that coach are a bit ill-defined, but supposedly one of them is helping out in determining which plays the manager should challenge. That's useful, and I'm sure he'll also be helpful to catching coach Mike Borzello. He'll also certainly be helpful to the Spanish-speaking players in the organization.

I don't yet have a numerical list but it's certainly possible Blanco will reclaim No. 24. On the other hand, he wore 11 different numbers over his big-league career (4, 9, 12, 20, 21, 22, 24, 28, 33, 35 and 54), so your guess is as good as mine.