Is it Insanity that keeps Blanco going? Absolutely
Intense daily workout propels 42-year-old to stay in mix to be D-backs' backup catcher
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- What keeps D-backs catcher Henry Blanco going at the age of 42?
Not the lose-your-mind kind, but the workout program called "Insanity," which has kept him fit, trim and ready to play at an age when most catchers -- backup or otherwise -- have traded in their shin guards for retirement.
While with the Padres in 2009, Blanco said that he might be nearing the end of his career when he approached Padres strength and conditioning coach Jim Malone.
"I told him that I needed something to give me energy and all that kind of stuff and he came up with this idea to do this," Blanco said. "It's been working for me for the last five years."
What Malone suggested was the Insanity workout, which is a max-interval training program designed by a man named Shaun T and promoted incessantly on TV infomercials.
The workout promises to pack a year's worth of workouts into a 60-day program.
So every day during the spring, Blanco can be found at 5:30 a.m. in the hallway outside the D-backs weight room with a mini DVD player going through his workout.
"I get a couple of the guys to do it with me," Blanco said. "We do it early and get it out of the way. It gets you ready."
Keep in mind this is a 45-minute workout that proclaims to be the "hardest workout ever put on DVD" and Blanco does it before the D-backs go through their daily Spring Training activities.
"It's pretty intense, but it gives you a lot of flexibility and it keeps your weight down," Blanco said. "That's the most important thing."
Blanco was with the D-backs in 2011 and 2012 before spending last year with the Blue Jays and Mariners. He returned to Arizona with no guarantees of winning a spot on the Opening Day roster, but one way or another it seems as if Blanco will spend the year in a D-backs uniform.
That's because the D-backs will likely hire Blanco to be their assistant hitting coach if he does not make the team. The organization initially tried to hire him to fill the position, but Blanco wanted to continue his career so they offered him the option of trying to beat out Tuffy Gosewisch for the backup catching spot behind Miguel Montero.
"I would love to," Blanco said of one day coaching. "I love to teach, I love to help out guys and I just want to stay in the game as much as I can. Hopefully, we'll see what happens in the next few weeks and we'll have to make a decision. But right now I'm just trying to get ready and make this team."
Blanco has carved out quite a niche for himself as a backup catcher, though at first it was hard for him to accept.
But he keeps coming back year after year, because after 16 years and 11 organizations he still loves the competition and there is one hole remaining in his resume.
"I just want to experience what the World Series can be," Blanco said. "That's what I think partly kept me coming back. I've been close, but not enough. I think it's a lot of people's dream to go all the way to the World Series and winning a ring. I don't think people play this game for the money, I think they play it to win and be the best. Hopefully we put everything together like we did in 2011."
Regardless of Blanco's motivation for returning, the D-backs are glad to have him.
"I'm happy and excited to have him back, because he and I communicate pretty good and have a great relationship," Montero said. "He's been a great teammate. He talks to you a lot and tries to get you going in the right direction. At age 42, he's still out there getting the job done. You've got to really love the game to be doing that. I love the game, but I don't know if at that age I'll still want to keep playing."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.