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Blanco an unsung rock for Giants' outfield

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Woody Allen said that 90 percent of life is being there. If that's true, then Giants reserve Gregor Blanco has devoted 100 percent effort to that 90 percent share.

Blanco has spent four full seasons with the Giants, which is noteworthy in itself. Other outfielders who have come and gone during that stretch include Nate Schierholtz, Andres Torres, Juan Perez, Francisco Peguero, Michael Morse, Tyler Colvin and Nori Aoki. Since making the team as a non-roster invitee in 2012, Blanco has established himself as an ideal fourth outfielder who can contribute in a variety of ways -- replacing an injured starter for a prolonged stretch, providing late-inning defense or pinch-hitting or running.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Woody Allen said that 90 percent of life is being there. If that's true, then Giants reserve Gregor Blanco has devoted 100 percent effort to that 90 percent share.

Blanco has spent four full seasons with the Giants, which is noteworthy in itself. Other outfielders who have come and gone during that stretch include Nate Schierholtz, Andres Torres, Juan Perez, Francisco Peguero, Michael Morse, Tyler Colvin and Nori Aoki. Since making the team as a non-roster invitee in 2012, Blanco has established himself as an ideal fourth outfielder who can contribute in a variety of ways -- replacing an injured starter for a prolonged stretch, providing late-inning defense or pinch-hitting or running.

Blanco has provided stability that few role players -- or regulars -- can match. Only 21 outfielders have played in more Major League games than Blanco's 543 from 2012-15. Among that group, just seven have done so with the same team: Baltimore's Adam Jones, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce, Cleveland's Michael Brantley, Kansas City's Alex Gordon and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Andre Ethier. Each has been an All-Star; McCutchen and Trout have won Most Valuable Player Awards. Thus, Blanco truly has been a singular performer in a secondary capacity.

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Giants catcher Buster Posey called Blanco "unselfish," adding, "I think that might be part of the reason he is overlooked. He might play two weeks straight and then he might not play once for a week."

Video: WSH@SF: Blanco robs Escobar with a diving catch

Blanco's ability to play any outfield spot and occupy any position in the batting order gives Giants manager Bruce Bochy flexibility when he's summoned.

"I'm ready for any situation Bochy gives me," Blanco said recently before being sidelined by a touch of the flu.

Blanco, 32, has felt comfortable with San Francisco since he arrived in camp four years ago. He recalled being welcomed immediately by established Giants such as Posey, Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval.

"They really helped me fit in pretty quick," Blanco said. "As soon as I spent a week here, I saw, like wow, this is where I wanted to be the rest of my career."

He made his mark in that initial Giants campaign, preserving Matt Cain's perfect game against Houston with a running catch of Jordan Schafer's seventh-inning drive. It remains the signature moment of Blanco's career.

Video: Must C Catch: Blanco's great grab preserves perfecto

"I really take pride in my defense," Blanco said. "It's so important when the pitcher feels comfortable with whoever's playing out there. They can throw any pitch and say, 'I know my defense is going to take care of me.'"

Blanco balanced defense with offense last year, batting a career-high .291 in 115 games -- 34 points above his lifetime average entering the season. A pair of concussions prevented him from playing more extensively. Blanco attributed his success to aggressiveness, as he recorded an astronomical .489 batting average (22-for-45) when swinging at the first pitch.

"Before, I let pitchers throw me first strikes and work the count," Blanco said. "Now, when that first fastball is there, why not hit it? I can see the improvement and I'm really excited about it."

Video: WSH@SF: Blanco singles to put Giants on the board

Blanco's diligence and demeanor have prompted some observers to suggest he could become a highly effective coach after he finishes playing.

"I always like trying to help younger players. I might do it," Blanco said, sounding intrigued by the possibility.

Until then, he has some unfinished business with the Giants.

"My plan is to stay here until my body shuts down," Blanco said. "I really like the fans. I really like my teammates. I think we have a great family here. I don't see myself leaving. I hope to play 10 more years here."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Gregor Blanco