PHOENIX — Coaching was always going to be part of his future. He was just hoping the future wouldn’t be so soon.
Henry Blanco joined the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff after being released from his minor league contract on Monday. He had been battling to be the backup catcher, but lost the competition when the team decided to go with Tuffy Gosewisch.
“He’s going to help (hitting coach) Turner (Ward) quite a bit,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We feel Henry, beyond what he’s contributed on the field — we always knew he contributed as well when he wasn’t playing — and just the way he touches people and the way he has about himself and the knowledge that’s he gathered throughout his playing career.
“He’s got a lot to give. He doesn’t want to get out of the game.”
Truth be told, Blanco wanted to keep playing.
“That was the plan,” said the 42-year-old after what he called a “crazy first day” on the job. “I don’t know now. I’m more now a coach. But if I get the chance somewhere I probably give it up. I’m not sure now that I’m already become a coach so unless it’s a good opportunity.”
Blanco’s duties as assistant hitting coach, according to Gibson, have yet to be spelled out. However, he’s always had somewhat of a coaching role, or perhaps better described as a teaching role, over the course of his career, which spanned 16 MLB seasons, including two with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012.
“When I sat him down in Sydney, Australia,” Gibson said, “and told him that he wasn’t going to be active on our roster for those games, in true Henry fashion he said, ‘Well, I’ll have to be there to support my teammates. No problem, Skipper. I’ll be there. I’ll do whatever you need me to do.’ He shook my hand and he went out in the clubhouse and was as vibrant as ever. Just having him around with his personality and his knowledge and what he has to give back, it will be great.”
Blanco was a career .223 hitter with 72 home runs and 298 runs batted in.
“This is a good opportunity to stay here with Arizona,” he said Monday.
“I know almost everybody here so I think that’s going to make it a little bit easier,” he said. “Now we concentrate on winning games and helping each other out. That’s the way I’m going to look at it now.”