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Pence's return costs Blanco roster spot

Special to MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Outfielder Gregor Blanco was designated for assignment by the Giants on Saturday in order to make room for Hunter Pence's return.

Blanco has been one of the Giants' most popular players in the Bay Area despite playing a reserve role for most of his six seasons. He endeared himself to San Francisco fans his first season with the ballclub when he made a diving catch on the warning track in right-center field that helped preserve Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Outfielder Gregor Blanco was designated for assignment by the Giants on Saturday in order to make room for Hunter Pence's return.

Blanco has been one of the Giants' most popular players in the Bay Area despite playing a reserve role for most of his six seasons. He endeared himself to San Francisco fans his first season with the ballclub when he made a diving catch on the warning track in right-center field that helped preserve Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

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While that's a memory many Giants fans still cherish, Blanco's production at the plate this season made him expendable. In 42 games, he was batting .242 with one home run, five RBIs and three stolen bases.

With Pence cleared to return after a lengthy rehab stint, San Francisco made the decision to DFA Blanco, although the Giants left the door open for his return.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Blanco has cleared waivers and the team plans to outright him to Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. The plan is for Blanco to report to the River Cats on Tuesday.

"Gregor was going through a little rut but we got in this situation where we had to make room so it had to be somebody," Bochy said. "Six outfielders was not going to work."

Mac Williamson is likely to take over as the team's everyday left fielder. Pence and Austin Jackson are also possibilities.

Pence had been the Giants' starting right fielder since 2012. He was an All-Star in 2014 when San Francisco won its third World Series title in five years.

Video: SF@SD: Pence slices a two-run single to right-center

But Pence's numbers have not been good and he's struggled at the plate for the past 1 1/2 seasons. That's one of the reasons the Giants extended Pence's rehab in order to give him time to work out the kinks in his swing.

Now back with the big league club, Pence will adjust to being a role player. And he's embracing it, just as Bochy expected he would.

"My style is whatever it takes to help the team," Pence said. "I'm going to be here to give everything I have, no matter what that is. It's part of the game and I understand that. Sometimes you have to put on a different hat. You've got to constantly be adjusting in this game. For now, this is my role. I'm going to charge in with everything I've got."

Bochy wasn't surprised.

"This guy's unique, he's special, he really is," Bochy said. "In his outlook on life, the way he carries himself, he's such a positive guy. That's been him since I've known him. Now granted, he's played every day. He hasn't been in this situation. But even then, any kind of adversity, he looks at it as a challenge and not a setback. That's what makes him who he is."

Bochy noted that Pence is similar to Blanco in that respect.

"They're just pros and they'll do anything to help the club or organization," Bochy said. "That's why Gregor, we want him back here and that's why he'll always have a special place here."

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence