At top of the order, Blanco realizes World Series dream

At top of the order, Blanco realizes World Series dream

KANSAS CITY -- Barring unforeseen circumstances, Gregor Blanco of the Giants will realize his fondest baseball dream Tuesday night: Leading off and playing center field in the World Series.

"That always has been the picture in my mind since I was a little kid," Blanco said Monday. Hours from seeing his wish come true, the Venezuelan called his luck "amazing. I'm so thankful and grateful. I appreciate every moment."

Through most of this postseason, however, Blanco's dream appeared in danger of unraveling. Through San Francisco's first eight games this postseason, he hit .111 (4-for-36) and scored just once. Giants manager Bruce Bochy stuck with Blanco in the leadoff spot, though some fans howled for an alternative, such as right fielder Hunter Pence.

  Date     Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 21     SF 7, KC 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 22     KC 7, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 24     KC 3, SF 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 25     SF 11, KC 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 26     SF 5, KC 0 video
Gm 6 Oct. 28     KC 10, SF 0 video
Gm 7 Oct. 29     SF 3, KC 2 video

Fortunately for the Giants, Blanco appears to be on the upswing approaching the World Series opener against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT airtime/5:07 PT first pitch, FOX). The left-handed hitter went 3-for-8 in the final two games of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis. He scored twice and drove in a run in Game 4 before rapping a pair of singles and scoring the Giants' first run in Game 5 against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

"I put pressure on myself," said Blanco, 30. "I tried to get on base six times out of five. I sat myself down and said, 'You've got to relax.' ... After that, I was more patient and calm and didn't try to do too much."

Blanco intends to maintain that attitude as the Giants launch their quest to win their third World Series in five years. He knows that his productivity at the top of the order would jump-start the Giants' offense.

"We're going to keep trying to play our game," said Blanco, who hit .260 with five homers, 38 RBIs, 16 steals in 21 attempts and a .333 on-base percentage in 146 games this year. "We should not worry about what [the Royals] are doing. We just have to worry about what we're capable of."

Blanco sensed that the Royals might be capable of greatness after he joined them from Atlanta in a five-player deal at the 2010 Trade Deadline.

"I remember they kept talking about 'One day we'll be in the World Series if we just keep believing in each other," said Blanco, whose Kansas City teammates included current mainstays Billy Butler, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon and Greg Holland. "I know how hard they worked to be in the spot they're in right now."

Blanco's reflections on his Royals tenure were positive. "They taught me how to take care of my body," he said. "At that particular time I felt like I was overweight. When I got here, I needed to prove to myself that I could be the player I wanted to become and they helped me do it."

Blanco spent 2011 in Triple-A, dividing the season between the Kansas City and Washington organizations due to another trade. Three teams expressed interest when he became a free agent the following offseason: the Reds, Marlins and Giants. A friend advised Blanco to select the team that had the best chance to win big. Blanco signed with the Giants and earned a World Series ring with them in 2012.

Said Blanco, "I appreciate what the Giants have done for me -- the opportunity to make me welcome in their family, so to speak."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.