With the San Francisco Giants celebrating the final days of Hunter Pence as a Giant, another outfielder is possibly playing his final games in orange and black.
Gregor Blanco, who also helped the San Francisco Giants win two World Series in 2012 and 2014, is not getting the same fanfare and sendoff as Pence.
While Pence was the team’s emotional leader and power hitting right fielder during their World Series runs, Blanco was the steady defensive presence who played all three outfield positions.
He was tasked with starting, pinch running, pinch hitting and used as a defensive replacement late in games.
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No matter what role he played, Blanco helped the Giants keep close games close and protect the Giants from using sub par defenders in the late innings.
The team did not resign Blanco after the 2016 season, and he signed with the Arizona Diamonbacks last year. The Giants brought him back on a minor league deal this season and he made the opening day roster.
“The White Shark” hit .321 in April and was providing a jolt to an offense that needed help. His numbers fell off and his batting average was down to .246 with an OPS of .650 by the end of May. Blanco was designated for assignment and ended up reporting to the Sacramento River Cats in Triple-A. The Giants brought him back to San Francisco in late August as injuries mounted up and Blanco’s numbers improved.
Blanco has played parts of seven seasons with the Giants since 2012. He is most famous in San Francisco for his incredible catch in the seventh inning of Matt Cain‘s perfect game.
He has also come up with timely hits and been part of big moments at the plate. One of his most memorable at bats was his sacrifice bunt that led to an error and a walk off win in the National League Championship Series.
Blanco became a fan favorite over the years and should be celebrated much like Pence in this final week of the season. Both outfielders may retire at the end of the year, although neither have said so for sure.
No matter what their final decisions are, it is important fans appreciate the consistent effort and joy that these two Giants played the game with. The best example of this is what happened Tuesday night.
With Pence at first base, Blanco laced a base hit down the left field line that got past the outfielder. Pence, without hesitation, was off to the races and scored and what turned out to be a Blanco double.
The Giants had re-taken the lead and nobody was happier than the two men involved. With the crowd on their feet and their teammates cheering, the sheer passion and excitement in the eyes of Pence and Blanco was a perfect encapsulation of the two Forever Giants.
While the Giants say goodbye to Hunter Pence on Sunday, do not forget to tip your cap to the other outfielder possibly leaving the team: Gregor Blanco.