Workout routine paying off for Angels' Blanton

The Orange County RegisterMarch 8, 2013 

Diamondbacks Angels Spring Baseball

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Joe Blanton throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Tempe, Az. Friday, March 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHRIS CARLSON — AP

TEMPE, Ariz. — When Joe Blanton made his Angels debut earlier this week, he was finished pitching about 20 minutes into the game. And he was finished working about two hours later.

Blanton's work on the mound — two crisp innings of pounding the strike zone and letting his defense do the work — was just the tip of the iceberg. After he was done, he embarked on a marathon workout of cardio and stretching.

"He's got a tremendous routine," said pitching coach Mike Butcher, who is working with Blanton for the first time this spring. "It's a pretty phenomenal routine, and it shows."

It shows when the 6-foot-3 Blanton, a former University of Kentucky and Franklin-Simpson High School standout, takes the mound at about 225 pounds looking nothing like the Blanton who pitched so many times at Angel Stadium in an Oakland A's uniform.

When Blanton pitched in Oakland, from 2005-08, he weighed as much as 260 pounds. Still, he pitched effectively, consistently working 200 innings, so he didn't feel the weight was an issue.

"I never looked at it like I needed to lose weight," Blanton said. "It just kind of happened."

Blanton, 32, who signed with the Angels as a free agent in December, said in his first few years in the majors he concentrated on lifting weights and didn't do much cardio. As he got older and moved from the A's to the Philadelphia Phillies in a 2008 trade, he added more cardio and more stretching. Now, he has an exhaustive routine of work that has few breaks. He'll spend at least 30 minutes simply stretching after a game.

"He's very, very diligent," Butcher said. "He knows exactly what he's doing. He puts in a lot of time getting his body prepared."

Although Blanton's performance has remained relatively consistent throughout his career, whether he weighted 260 or 225, he certainly looks and feels better now.

"If I was still at that weight, I would feel more sluggish," said Blanton, who will make his second spring start Friday. "I feel more athletic now than I did then. With my weight down it helps me feel more athletic and helps me repeat my mechanics. I think all the stretching helps me learn my body more. The more you know about your body, hopefully your mind can figure out what body part wasn't moving there, for that pitch-to-pitch correction."

■ Joe Blanton got two innings of work in Friday before the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks were rained out with the score 1-1 in the bottom of third.

Pitching in rain, Blanton made his second spring training start and allowed one run and two hits in two innings.

"His bread and butter is his two-seam fastball, and it looked real good," Angels catcher Hank Conger said. "He was mixing in a good changeup, and his fastball was firing."

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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