The Rundown: Henry Blanco Hired as Quality Assurance Coach, Wittenmyer Says Cubs Not Optimistic About Signing Lester

The Cubs are one step closer to finalizing their coaching staff, with Saturday’s announcement that Henry Blanco will be coming aboard as quality assurance coach.

Blanco, former Cubs backup catcher, will be filling the role vacated by Jose Castro, who left to join the Atlanta Braves after the 2014 season. Blanco comes over from the Diamondbacks, where he was an assistant hitting coach last year.

Endearingly known as “Hank White” to some Cubs fans, Blanco was fairly popular during his time in Chicago. At least as popular as a backup catcher could be.

He’s a well-respected baseball guy, and many believe he can be a successful manager someday. So this seems like a pretty nice get for the Cubs.

Additionally, Blanco is bilingual, which should help with communicating with the Cubs’ Latin players. This was a key part of the Rick Renteria hire, as well.

Other notes

* With speculation of Dave Martinez joining the Cubs’ coaching staff after not receiving the Tampa Bay managing position, Jesse Rogers says it’s “doubtful”, citing a source close to the situation. Martinez was the longtime bench coach under current Cubs manager, Joe Maddon. The Cubs haven’t commented on Martinez’s situation because he’s still under contract.

* Gordon Wittenmyer says that he has heard the Cubs are not particularly confident about landing free-agent pitcher Jon Lester, after the Cubs met with him this past week. He maintains that the Red Sox appear to be the front-runner. A tad disconcerting. Perhaps as a consolation, Wittenmyer seems to think the Cubs have a good shot at signing outfielder Jonny Gomes, who would provide solid leadership qualities.

* John Shea from the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the Padres have made the highest offer to free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but that Sandoval is leaning toward Boston. Unfortunately, I don’t think that if the Red Sox sign Sandoval, it would have an effect on their ability to sign Jon Lester. Shea said Sandoval will be making his final decision next week.

* The Cubs and A’s will play a couple Spring Training games in Las Vegas. The games, taking place March 13-14, will be split-squad match-ups, in addition to Cactus League games announced last month. Tickets go on sale Jan. 10, if you plan on pulling a “Swingers.” Well, if Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau had gone to a baseball game in “Swingers,” that is.

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