Blanco enjoying return to San Francisco

Blanco enjoying return to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's been a homecoming for D-backs outfielder Gregor Blanco.

Blanco is in San Francisco for the first time since signing with Arizona in the offseason. The player who was known as "The White Shark" spent five seasons in San Francisco and started every postseason game in both 2012 and 2014, a key factor for the two World Series-winning teams.

"I was in the city today and went to Macy's to buy some stuff, and a lot of people were like, 'Hey, we miss you. Welcome to the city, welcome home,'" Blanco said. "It was hilarious and good."

After the second inning ended Friday night, the Giants played a two-minute video tribute to Blanco before showing him on the scoreboard with the tagline, "Forever Giant." Blanco then received a loud ovation, something he said he appreciated.

"It was pretty cool. I wasn't expecting that," Blanco said. "Especially the fans getting up and cheering for me, I think it was a great moment. Even my old teammates from the field said hi to me. It was a huge moment. I'm grateful and thankful, too. I really appreciated it."

In his career with the Giants, Blanco hit .259 in 649 games with 19 homers, 157 RBIs and 75 steals. His biggest impact came defensively, though, where he played all three outfield positions well at the expansive AT&T Park.

Though he primarily played left or center, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Blanco's most memorable play came as a right fielder in 2012, when he made a diving catch in right-center that preserved Matt Cain's perfect-game bid.

"I looked up and I saw Angel [Pagan] way over and I said 'Oh my goodness, he's not going to get to that ball,' and Gregor came out of nowhere and made just a spectacular catch," Bochy said. "He's just a good person. As good of a player as he is, he's even a better person."

Blanco signed a Minor League contract with the D-backs in January with an invitation to Spring Training, but he was released when an oblique injury led to him not making the team. He re-signed with the team a day later and rehabbed for all of April before being called up May 5.

Blanco entered Saturday batting .259 with three homers, 10 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for Arizona this year, and D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has appreciated his veteran presence.

"On a bunch of different levels, Gregor has helped shape us and push us to where we are today," Lovullo said. "He has assumed a great leadership role, he stands up at the right times and he's fearless in sharing his knowledge on what it takes to be a winner. Every team needs those types of players.

"We're very lucky to have Gregor."

Worth noting

• Lovullo said shortstop Nick Ahmed (fractured right hand) is doing grip strengthening but hasn't picked up a bat yet. He continues to keep the rest of his body in shape, but there's no timetable for when he'll move to the next step.

• While Lovullo didn't give a definite answer when asked, expect Fernando Rodney was expected to get a day off no matter the situation Saturday. The closer had pitched three straight days, earning three saves to give him 25 on the year.

• Even though Robbie Ray (concussion) is making progress, Lovullo stressed the D-backs won't rush him, indicating it's not likely Ray starts against the Dodgers next week.

Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the D-backs on Saturday. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.