TEMPE, Ariz. -- Joe Blanton was scheduled to throw two innings in his spring debut against the Cubs on Sunday, but the Angels wanted him to get 35 to 40 pitches under his belt. Blanton only needed 20. He gave up a solo homer, struck out two batters and, true to his nature, worked fast and pounded the strike zone.
So Blanton's other 20 pitches had to come off the bullpen mound beyond the right-field fence.
"I've always felt like working quick is going to be to my benefit versus hitters and it's going to be to my team's benefit, fielders behind me, keep them on their toes," said Blanton, who didn't allow a baserunner besides the Brian Bogusevic homer. "If I give up a run or two in an inning or I don't, I want it to be a quick inning, get my hitters back in there, so they're not standing out on the field all day."
That approach helped Blanton rack up the 20th-most innings in baseball from 2005-12, at 1,426 2/3, and is a main reason the Angels signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract in the offseason.
During that eight-year span, Blanton has gone 83-75 with a 4.37 ERA and has walked 2.37 hitters per nine innings, tied for 21st in the Majors. And over each of the last four years, the 32-year-old right-hander's strikeout-to-walk rate has increased, to a career-high 4.88 mark in 2012.
A big reason is his aggressiveness.
"I try to make [hitters] aggressive and then I can gradually maybe try to nibble a little bit more," Blanton said. "If they know I'm throwing strikes, I feel like I'll get more strikes on the borderline pitches than if I'm all over the place, especially with umpires."