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Collmenter uses reading to shape philosophy

An avid reader, D-backs righty can usually be found with a book in clubhouse

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PHOENIX -- Walk into the Arizona Diamondbacks' clubhouse when they're on the road and you'll likely find Josh Collmenter sitting in front of his locker reading a book.

"There's plenty of time in the clubhouse," the right-hander said. "Some guys will play cards or play on their phone. I try to not be on that as much as possible, and [I] try to get something somewhat productive done."

Collmenter will often visit a bookstore on the road and browse until he finds something that catches his eye.

Recently Collmenter finished "Siddhartha," a novel by Hermann Hesse. Written in 1922, the story takes place in ancient India and deals with the teachings of Buddha.

Currently he's working his way through "Essentials of Philsophy: The Basic Concepts of the World's Greatest Thinkers."

"It's great, because that way I'm able to get a little bit of everyone's philosophy and I don't have to go and read Plato's 'Republic' and get all of Nietzsche's stuff," Collmenter said. "It just boils everything down to the main points."

Political speeches are also big for Collmenter. He's read numerous inaugural addresses and is a big fan of Abraham Lincoln's speeches.

Oh, and there was also "Einstein's Dreams," which Collmenter read not too long ago.

"It was about a guy who had these dreams where it was different space and time relationships," he said. "One time, the higher you got in the sky, the more time slowed down. So people were constantly trying to build higher buildings just to save more time, whereas they were wasting all their time trying to get there to try and slow down time. The people on the ground were just going to work and living their lives. It was about what people will do to get more time, whereas a lot of times you have enough time -- it's just a matter of managing it and taking advantage of certain things."

Collmenter has taken all that reading and used it to stitch together his own philosophy and way of looking at the world.

"He handles every situation with the right attitude," catcher Miguel Montero said. "He's always even-keeled and upbeat. He's fun to have as a teammate, because he has a good outlook and a different sense of humor."

From his big league debut in 2011, Collmenter has impressed the organization's hierarchy as well as his teammates with his ability to handle any and all situations.

With the D-backs desperate for a win down 2-0 in the 2011 National League Division Series, it was Collmenter who came through with a clutch start in Game 3.

Shifted to the bullpen a year later, Collmenter learned to not just accept, but embrace a role that he had never done before. And when the team needed him back in the rotation a couple of weeks ago, well, he welcomed that as well.

It's part of his philosophy that Collmenter calls the "Blank Canvas" approach.

"It's kind of a concept that I've thought about for a while," he said. "So many times -- and I think we're all guilty of this -- we go into things with some kind of preconceived notion, or you've already formed something in your mind. And you miss out on either gaining something or understanding someone else's perspective, because you're already looking at it through your own narrow lens.

"Each day I've tried to look at it like a blank canvas -- let's see what happens, let's see what fills it, let's see what comes up. That way you're not judging either people, or things, or situations, you're just living in the present and in the moment and trying to enjoy everything you can."

For instance, when manager Kirk Gibson invited a guest speaker in to address the team this spring, Collmenter's first reaction was to think, "Oh, not another one." But he caught himself and decided to approach it with an open mind.

"And it turned out to be a blast," Collmenter said. "So if you can go into something without preconceived notions, then I think you're going to get more out of life. You'll be able to fully realize what there is here and what different people have to offer and what different circumstances have to offer. And you're not going to judge people, or places, or things that happen in your life, because you're going to see how it is and then just react to it."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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