Gregor Blanco eager to take another shot at job in Giants outfield


Gregor Blanco eager to take another shot at job in Giants outfield

SAN FRANCISCO — Six years ago, Gregor Blanco came to Scottsdale Stadium as a little-known outfielder looking for a bench job. It was clear early that spring that Blanco would be a valued member of Bruce Bochy’s outfield. 

Now 34 years old, Blanco is hoping for a repeat performance. 

Since that first spring breakout, Blanco has won two titles, made a catch that will forever be remembered in San Francisco, developed into a fan favorite, and set his family up financially. He also has spent a year away, playing 90 games for the rival Diamondbacks. 

Blanco returned to the Giants late in the offseason, breaking the news of his minor league deal on Instagram. He was all smiles Tuesday after putting the orange and black back on, taking several photos of his cleats to post on his social media pages. 

“This is home for me,” Blanco said. “I’m really excited and hungry. I worked really hard in the winter so that I can show my abilities again.”

Blanco batted .246 for the Diamondbacks, posting a .694 OPS with three homers and 15 stolen bases. His numbers in 2016 — his last year with the Giants — were lower, but Blanco believes he has plenty left. Statcast’s metrics show that Blanco is still one of the faster players in the big leagues -- per Sprint Speed, he is the fastest on the Giants roster -- and he was 15-for-16 on the bases last season. Most importantly, the Giants still believe in Blanco’s versatile glove. He’s an option to split time with Austin Jackson in center and back up both corner spots. 

“A guy like Gregor, who we know really well and he’s played a role in our success, it’s good to have him back,” Bochy said.

Bochy said Gorkys Hernandez will also be in that mix in center, and noted Steven Duggar is a rookie “that we’re going to take a good strong look at in center field.” Blanco, Hernandez and Jarrett Parker are out of minor league options, so there’s some urgency there. Mac Williamson and Austin Slater are also competing for an outfield bench spot, although both have options remaining. 

It’s a familiar group, and that vibe extends past the outfield. Blanco spent some time Tuesday catching up with Hector Sanchez, who also is back on a minor league deal. Sanchez found that his locker is right next to Pablo Sandoval’s.

The next few weeks will be spent fighting for jobs, but on Day 1, it was all about enjoying being back with the Giants.

“I feel like I’m a kid again,” Blanco said. 

Giants activate Hunter Strickland after missing two months

Giants activate Hunter Strickland after missing two months

The Giants re-instated reliever Hunter Strickland from the 60-day DL Saturday ahead of their game against the Reds.

In corresponding moves, Dereck Rodriguez has been placed on the 10-day DL and Pablo Sandoval has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

Strickland missed the last two months with a fractured right hand after losing his temper in a blown save against the Marlins. After being taken out of a 5-4 loss at home, Strickland went into the dugout and punched a door with his throwing hand. 

The Giants could certainly use Strickland out of the bullpen in the thick of a playoff race. Strickland is 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA and has 13 saves on the season. 

On Friday night, the Giants lost in extra innings as Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th. The Giants (61-61) are seven games back in the NL West and 6.5 games back in the wild card race. 

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

The first night at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati wasn’t what you would expect. The Giants and Reds took a 1-1 tie deep into the night in one of the league’s best hitters parks before Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th.

The Giants lost their second straight after a hot start to this trip. They are 2-2 on what they felt would be a trip that could get them back into the NL West race. Here’s what else you need to know from a disappointing night... 

—- The lineup did absolutely nothing against Anthony DeSclafini, who entered with a 4.46 ERA. He was finally knocked out in the eighth when the Giants put two on with two outs, but Buster Posey tapped out to short. 

—- The Giants couldn’t have asked for much more from Casey Kelly, an emergency starter after Dereck Rodriguez strained his hamstring. Two days after pitching the 12th in Los Angeles, Kelly gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits — eight singles — but repeatedly wiggled out of trouble. It helped that he picked Billy Hamilton off.

—- Kelly shared a cool moment with his dad, Pat, the bench coach for the Reds. The two made eye contact before the first pitch and saluted each other.