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How former Royal Blanco became a star for the Giants

10/26/2012 10:41 AM

05/16/2014 8:06 PM

Gregor Blanco had the two scariest hits for Tigers fans in the second game of the World Series on Thursday night.

The first smashed off the head of starter Doug Fister in the second inning. Remarkably, Fister stayed in the game and pitched a gem. Unfortunately for Fister, he took the loss in part because of Blanco’s other hit: the 45-foot bunt off Drew Smyly that stayed fair in the seventh inning.

You may recall that Blanco is the former Royal who replaced another former Royal, Melky Cabrera, after Cabrera was suspended for a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug this season.

How did Blanco go from Kansas City in 2010 to starting left fielder for the Giants in the World Series?

After being acquired from the Braves on July 31, 2010 (along with Tim Collins and pitcher Jesse Chavez for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth), Blanco hit .274 with home homer, 11 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 49 games.

In spring training in 2011, Blanco was one of the last cuts and he was put on waivers, meaning he was available to any team in the majors. All 29 passed on him, so he went to Omaha. A little later, Blanco was traded to the Nationals for a player to be named later, and he spent the rest of the year in Class AAA Syracuse.

Who was the player to be named?

I couldn’t find the answer anywhere: the Giants media guide, the Royals media guide, Baseball Reference, etc., so I asked Royals writer Bob Dutton. Bob said the Royals got cash in return, but didn’t know how much. It’s usually $100,000 or less – sometimes a lot less.

After the 2011 season, Blanco was a non-roster invitee to Giants spring training.

He made the team and was hitting .232 on Aug. 15 when Cabrera’s suspension was announced. Blanco helped fill in for Cabrera, and hit .281 from that point on.

Blanco’s big bunt single in the seventh inning Thursday helped the Giants push the game’s first run across the plate and help San Francisco take a 2-0 series lead.

And don’t forget his throw that started a 7-4-2 out at the plate in the second inning that nailed Prince Fielder. (Blanco also had that dazzling catch that saved Matt Cain’s perfect game earlier this year)

From unwanted by everyone in 2010 to helping win a World Series game. It’s been a wild ride for Blanco.

“Blanco is just – he’s such a huge part of this team in every way,” pitcher Barry Zito told reporters.

| To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4430 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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