SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – You can’t blame Gregor Blanco. You really can’t.
Marco Scutaro hit .362 as a Giant, he went 14 for 28 to win NLCS MVP honors and for a final act, he lined the base hit that drove in the tiebreaking run in the Giants’ World Series clincher.
When someone like Scutaro walks up to you and offers hitting advice, you take it.
But Blanco couldn’t get comfortable trying to use his lower half more in his swing. So after four mostly uninspiring weeks of exhibition games, Blanco went back to what felt familiar.
The results have been familiar, too. Blanco began driving the ball the past two games, and with Andres Torres also starting to have better at-bats, the Giants are a bit less concerned about their left field platoon.
Blanco is hitting just .209/.292/.326 this spring. That’s a far cry from his dazzling .333/.395/.423 line from last spring, when he made the club as a non-roster invitee. Blanco also led the major leagues with 13 stolen bases (in 14 attempts) last spring. He’s got four steals this year.
“Last year I was trying to make the team and I had to show my abilities,” Blanco said. “Now I was thinking, `I can start spring training and try to work on things that can maybe make me a better.’ But I guess it’s not working.”
Scutaro offered good advice, Blanco said. It just didn’t work for him.
“I kind of realized that I’ve got my approach,” Blanco said. “I’m comfortable with myself and I’m going to stick with it. I’m good at what I am. These last two days, I’ve been myself.”
Blanco had to tell himself the same thing last year, when he became the everyday left fielder on Aug. 15, following Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Cabrera was leading the majors in hits and runs scored, and leading the NL batting race, too, when the penalty came down.
“Last year a couple times I tried to prove myself instead of having belief in what I’ve got,” said Blanco, who initially struggled before finding his game in mid-September.
Blanco had his share of postseason moments, too. He hit the tiebreaking, two-run home run off Mike Leake in Game 4 of the NLDS at Cincinnati, and in fact, scored a run in each of those three elimination games at Great American Ball Park. He hit a triple that nearly brought the Giants back in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.
And he made one sensational catch after another in the World Series, none better than the grab on Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta in foul ground near the left field line in Game 3 of the World Series. He hit an RBI triple in that game, too.
After looking back on those moments, Blanco convinced himself that this was good enough. A chat with special instructor Randy Winn helped to reinforce that notion.
“If you watch Posey and Pablo and Scutaro, they load with their lower half,” Blanco said. “I’m not comfortable doing that. I said to myself, `I think you can be more consistent being you.’
“His approach works for him. Every hitter has their own approach. I’ve got mine.”