“We were able to get an experienced catcher with considerable postseason experience,” said Towers. “Henry is a clubhouse leader and a good, veteran catcher who mentored National League Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto in Chicago. We look for him to do the same this year with Nick Hundley.”
Henry Blanco, 37, hit .292 (35-for-120) with three doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI and 15 runs scored in 58 games with the Chicago Cubs in 2008. He appeared in 45 games at catcher including 28 starts, throwing out nine of 21 (42.9%) would-be base stealers.
Originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent in 1989, Blanco has hit .227 (483-for-2,129) with 117 doubles, 10 triples, 52 home runs, 241 RBI and 214 runs scored in 746 games over parts of 11 Major League seasons with the Dodgers (1997), Colorado Rockies (1999), Milwaukee Brewers (2000-01), Atlanta Braves (2002-03), Minnesota Twins (2004), and Cubs (2005-08). He has thrown out 41.0 percent of would-be base stealers in his career which ranks third among active Major League catchers (minimum 450 games).
Virgil Vasquez, who was claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on January 9, went 12-12 with a 4.81 ERA (85 ER/159.0 IP), 115 strikeouts and 37 walks in 27 starts for the Detroit Tigers Triple-A Toledo affiliate in 2008. He was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from Detroit on October 28, 2008. Selected by Detroit in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Vasquez made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 2007 and went 0-1 with an 8.64 ERA (16 ER/16.2 IP) in five outings including three starts. He is 54-48 with a 4.25 ERA (397 ER/840.0 IP), 610 strikeouts and 185 walks in 140 minor league starts in the Detroit system (2003-08).