It’s day 2 of the return for VFTB. Not much on the plate tonight, just a few notes to report.

San Diego loves the Cubs – Buster Olney reported that the San Diego Padres have agreed to a one-year deal for $750,000 with Henry Blanco. He should serve as a mentor for their young catcher and seems to leave the Cubs looking at Koyie Hill as the backup catcher coming into spring training this year. You know what? I’m fine with that. Hill did enough with the staff in his time up two years ago to trust him as the backup this year. Having Blanco last year was key for Soto, but that role isn’t as needed at this point. Now, the question becomes whether or not this is Blanco’s last year and if so, where does he begin his coaching career once he retires?

In other news, the Padres have also claimed former Cub, Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers from the Rays. The coolest part about the story though is that it led me to find out that the GM, Paul DePodesta, has his own blog

Rugrats in Paris on dvd

. How cool is that? I’d love it if all GM’s did this. It would be a great avenue for the fans to get inside the mind of a GM.

Baseball America’s Minor League Transactions - The Prospects blog updates these on a regular basis. Here was the latest entry for the Cubs.

Signed: RHP Ken Kadokura, LHP Matt Smith, 3B Erick Almonte, SS Joseph Colon, OF So Taguchi

The Cubs certainly won’t be lacking in Japanese veteran presence in spring training. Taguchi, 39, has emerged as something of a household name (in ways that Tsuyoshi Shinjo never did in this country) for his presence on three World Series teams, with the ‘06 Cardinals and ‘08 Phillies emerging as winners. And if you want to make a Mets fan wince, remind him of the ninth-inning home run Taguchi hit off Billy Wagner in Game Two of the ‘06 NLCS. But back to our regularly scheduled program . . . Kadokura, a 35-year-old reliever who was released by the Yomiuri Giants, logged just 12 2/3 innings in the Central League in 2008, posting a 3.55 ERA and a 16-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So, Rich Harden was hurt….that’s not good – I say that sarchastically, of course. The shoulder will keep him out of competing for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic…Not that Canada had a chance anyway.

Who’s in the 9th? – According to Lou, Carlos Marmol & Kevin Gregg will both compete this spring for the closer role coming into the season. My guess is that it’s only to not take a shot at Gregg. Unless he totally blows Marmol out of the water, I look for Gregg to be pitching in the 7th and 8th.

“Let them compete…I feel comfortable with Marmol, there’s no question. But we traded for this other young man, and he was a closer over there with success. Give him a chance, too.” ~ Lou Piniella

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail