A New Home, and a New Approach

The two big headlines for me since I last blogged:

We moved from Venezuela to Miami, and for the first time in 11 years I didn’t play winter ball.

 My wife and I bought a house in Miami last year with the money we earned from the World Series. If you’ve been watching the news, Venezuela isn’t a very safe place to be. It hasn’t been a safe place for a long time. I was there from Dec. 20 to Jan. 10 – 20 days – and personally witnessed three robberies. Everybody has been the victim of at least one crime.

Mine happened when I was 16. I was kidnapped for four hours with a gun to my head.

I had just signed a professional contract, and my mother bought me a car as a congratulations gift. I drove to the beach with my girlfriend. We stopped at KFC on the way back. When we were pulling out of the parking lot, a car hit us from behind. The driver told me we should exchange our insurance information somewhere else, so I followed him. I was just a teenager and didn’t suspect anything.

Then all of a sudden I see one guy over there, another guy here, and before I knew what was happening, they grabbed my girlfriend and me and forced us into the other car. They held a gun to my head while I called my mom and told her she had to pay $1,000 in ransom. I have since learned that the kidnappers don’t ask for a lot because they do this so often. They didn’t even try to hide their faces. That’s how sure they were that the police wouldn’t do anything.

My mom dropped the money where they told her then called to say it was done. They must have watched her because they let us go as soon as she called. I never saw my car again. The kidnappers were never caught.

Marco Scutaro told me his car was stolen once, and when the thieves found out it was his, they called him and returned it. Marco lives in Miami now. So does Pablo. When we were looking at the house we ended up buying, I asked the realtor about our potential neighbors in the gated community. She said about 95 percent of the homeowners were Venezuelan. Everyone wants a safer place for their families. I wish my dad and the rest of my family would move to Miami, but so far they want to stay with their friends and in the community they’ve known all their lives.

I’m so glad I didn’t play winter ball. The Giants pointed out that I had been playing baseball 11 years straight without a stop. My body needed a break. And some of my teammates – Hunter, Marco, Pablo, Buster – told me I’d have more endurance if I got stronger. They knew I was dragging sometimes as the season wore on.

So instead of playing winter ball, I worked six days a week with a trainer and changed the way I ate. I ate salads (no dressing, just lime and sea salt), vegetables and good fish (mahi-mahi and salmon) with no oil. In January I began introducing some carbohydrates back into my diet.The important thing is that now I look at food as fuel.

 

 

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From October 28 to the beginning of February, I didn’t swing a bat or throw a ball. That was hard. Baseball is such a part of me. Sometimes I’d go into the garage and hold a bat just because I missed it so much. But I think it was the right thing: I feel stronger, fresher and healthier than at any time in my life. I’m more explosive. My bat is faster. My legs are stronger. It’s exciting. And it’s fantastic to be back on the field.

Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to get back to SF and see everybody!

31 Comments

Gregor,
I’m glad you and your family are safe. Can’t wait to see you play this season! Congrats on your new home.

Gregor,
I’m glad that your family and you are safe. Can’t wait to see you play!!! You are awesome.

It seems like everyone here voiced many of the same things – which is great …. appreciation for your efforts (it cant be easy being sort of the “extra” outfielder on a team) and it certainly can’t be easy having a situation that the place you grew up in is so unsafe you feel you need to move out of your country and you remain worried about family and friends. It would be easy for people to forget that you have to think about these things AND try to focus on hitting a 95mph fastball! Now, of course we would have been happier if you moved to SF, but we wont hold it against you! :) Mucha seurte in the coming season. You taking the time to write about your non-baseball life adds a lot to watching you play and rooting for your success and happiness, both in and out of baseball.

You’ll do ok in your role as a 4th outfielder.

Looking forward to your season!

Looking forward to seeing you in left or center!

what a terrifying story! your poor mom!!
miami is terrifying in its own way (lol!), but i’m glad you are happy and (mostly) safe. i was mugged 5 blocks from my childhood home in sf, so no matter where you are, you always have to watch yourself.
so glad to have you back on the giants & to have baseball back from off-season. once football season ends, it’s HELL to wait for spring! anyway, here’s to an awesome season for you and the giants and to more of your sweet, honest, humble posts. i always enjoy them.

Congrats on your new home! I’m glad to hear that you are safer now, but sad to hear about your homeland’s problems. I wish your families and friends back home are able to stay safe and sound.

Good luck in the new season! Resting sounds very sensible, particularly as one gets older. This might help you last longer into the season, perhaps that is why your offense dipped later in the season, as your strength and stamina dipped. And it sounds like it has worked, you sound ready to take on the world. I look forward to seeing you play at your best in the playoffs!

Gregor!

First of all! Glad to see you still blogging. Thank you and I really enjoy this and the blog by the two Brandons. It is great to hear in your own words what you are thinking about things. I’m glad that you and your family decided to move to Miami and that your family is safe. I did worry a little when I heard what has recently been happening in Venezuela as we have so many Venezuelan players and if you guys were safe. Good to see that both Pablo and Marco also live in Miami now. Good that you could afford to move. About your dad…parents can be stubborn even if all you want is for them to be safe as well. Hopefully he and your family might come at some point.

Really looking forward to this season. I think you guys are going to be awesome this year. If you guys can somehow stay healthy there is a lot of talent ready to wreck havoc on the NL West. Can’t wait! I think that the Giants were right in saying it would be better to take winterball off this year this way you can stay fresh for the season!! So looking forward this year! Love you guys!!

Gregor, I am so glad that you moved to a safer place. I just saw a video a young woman posted on Facebook today about what is happening in your native country : ( I am so sorry that it is so dangerous there that you can’t go home to visit family, but I am glad that you are in the states, and that you are ready to start a new season of Giants baseball. I can’t wait for the season to begin. You are one of my favorite players, so it is great to know that you feeling healthy and are eating well! Good luck in the 2014 season & congratulations on you and your wife’s purchase of a house! Stay strong white shark!

Good luck this season, Gregor. I look forward to reading your blogs and watching you play. I’m glad to hear you feel safer and that you took a break- we all need breaks from time to time.

Hi Gregor! That was good news about you settling down with a house of your
own. Its getting dangerous
in Venezuela & you are really not safe there. I watched you place last year & really thought you need a break. The body cannot take too much just like
machines. You must rest it too. Im looking forward to a great baseball year with you in the Giants team! God bless you & your family!

Thanks Gregor for your insight and candor. Please continue to blog as frequently as you can… you’ve got lots of fans :)

i’m tired of hearing Blanco referred to as a ‘bench player’. he is an excellent fielder and has the potential to be an even more effective batter (many timely hits in 2013). add to that his humble nature and commitment to team success and you have what i would call a true Giant. have an awesome year, Gregor. I hope it’s one the Giants and their fans will never forget.

Great that you are back and excited about this year. Your new eating regimen sounds awesome. Do you and Hunter ever compare notes? It’s hard to be able to identify with the issues in Venezuela, coming from NorCal, but it is enough to know that these situations exist. Very happy that you and your immediate family are safe in Miami, and maybe your pops will join you some time along the way. Good luck in Spring Training and throughout the year! Keep on blogging!

Thanks for sharing your story! I’m happy to hear that you are safe now. I hope that your family in Venezuela stays safe as well. Can’t wait for the season to start!

So glad you and your family have a safe place to live now. It’s a shame your country is so dangerous but you’re fortunate you have the ability to come here to play ball and make enough to secure a safe future for them. Good luck this season. It sounds like you’re in great shape to start 2014.

So glad you and your family are safe. I grew up in S. Florida and loved it– and now I love being I the SF Bay Area! Go Giants!

So much love to you, your family and the country of Venezuela, Gregor!
Go Giants! This is our year!

Sounds like you prepared for a successful season Gregor. Looking forward to seeing you play at Spring Training and in San Francisco!

Congrats on your move Gregor, and best of luck in 2014!

Buena Suerte a Los Vinotintos de los Igantes. Que lastima que Venezuela, una nacion muy linda, tiene mucha violencia.

Thanks for sharing with us your personal story. It’s scary to find out how rampant and seemingly ordinary crime is in Venezuela but I’m happy you’re moving to a place where you are still comfortable and can feel at home. I also believe your break and new approach to food would be beneficial to your game. Congratulations on your move and best of luck on the 2014 season!

Nice story Gregor! Looking forward to seeing you play soon. Congrats on moving to Miami!!

Looking forward to seeing you on the field again, Tiburon Blanco. May you and all your family be healthy and safe!

Estimado Gregor, buenos deseos y que tengas un super 2014 !!

Gregor good luck in the 2014 season. I’m sure this will be a great year for you. You will always be my childhood hero, I still have my Tiburones #9 jersey hanging on my wall, hopefully you will get a chance to go and play in the winter league soon. On January I flew to Venezuela to see the Tiburones play in the Round Robin, and you were definitely missed. Next time you go play with them I will go back to Caracas to see you play for sure, meanwhile I will try and catch some giants games during the MLB season. Keep it up, you will always be my favorite player no matter where you play. Hopefully Venezuela gets back on track to what once used to be a great country. Pa’ Encima!

Thank you for making a new post Gregor! I really enjoy your approach to competition and the game of baseball. I often find inspiration within your posts for my own competitive pursuits! Wishing you the best for the 2014 season. Go GIANTS!!!!

My man, you’ve earned a good year. Hit LD’s, and run the bases…forget the fence. Give’m hell Gregor.

WOW! That’s crazy! Glad you made the move. Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait for the new season to start up! Go GIANTS!!

Reblogged this on MLB.com Blogs Central and commented:

Make sure you read Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco’s new post about his move to the States and his comments on his native Venezuela. It’s a pretty powerful post.

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