PHOENIX -- When it came time for Gregor Blanco to pick a nickname, he drew a little inspiration from his time playing winter ball in Venezuela -- as well as from former teammate Pablo Sandoval.Blanco will sport the name "White Shark" on the back of his No. 5 jersey during
PHOENIX -- When it came time for Gregor Blanco to pick a nickname, he drew a little inspiration from his time playing winter ball in Venezuela -- as well as from former teammate Pablo Sandoval.
Blanco will sport the name "White Shark" on the back of his No. 5 jersey during Players Weekend from Friday-Sunday, when players will wear special jerseys with nicknames on the back.
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MLB and the MLB Players Association are introducing the inaugural Players Weekend from Friday-Sunday, when players will have the opportunity to have a nickname placed on the back of the jerseys made by Majestic Athletic, as well as to wear and use uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks and bats.
Players also will wear specially designed caps by New Era, and unique socks from Stance. During pregame workouts and postgame interviews, they will wear T-shirts highlighting a charity or cause of their choice.
Blanco was the center fielder and batted leadoff for the Venezuelan Winter League club Tiburones de La Guaira from 2006-13 when fans gave him a nickname that came from the name of the club.
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"That came from Venezuela, where I'm from," Blanco said. "I played for the team down there; they called us Tiburones. In English, it means sharks. My last name is Blanco, and I was MVP in 2011 and the year before. Was just playing pretty good, and some people started calling me the Tiburon Blanco. Tiburon Blanco means white shark."
The moniker followed Blanco to the Majors, and when he joined the Giants in 2012 it stuck, thanks to a little help from Sandoval.
"We played together in Venezuela, and he had seen how people would call my name, 'Tiburon Blanco' when I get to bat and stuff like that," Blanco said. "So, he kind of really liked it. When I got to the Giants, he started saying to everybody, 'Hey, he's the 'Tiburon Blanco;' it means the white shark. Call him 'the White Shark,' because he's here now and not there anymore.'"
Also during Players Weekend, each player will wear a special patch on his sleeve showing the progression of a child evolving into a Major Leaguer. Under that logo is white space, and every player will mark a name of a person whom they are grateful to for helping them advance their careers, such as family or a coach.
Game-worn, Players Weekend jerseys will be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions with 100 percent of net proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada.
Blanco and Sandoval won a pair of World Series titles together with the Giants in 2012 and 2014, and the nickname followed Blanco to Arizona when he signed with the D-backs before the 2017 season.
"I really like it, it's like an aggressive nickname," Blanco said. "I really like sharks. They're kind of fast and aggressive."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.