Blanco adjusting to leadoff role with Royals

Blanco adjusting to leadoff role with Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Gregor Blanco, the Royals' new center fielder, already has had some moments -- no more evident than a single, a bunt hit and three stolen bases in the first two innings of Friday night's game against the Yankees.

In Blanco's first 10 games since being obtained from the Braves, he swiped five bases in five attempts. There was one drawback; he was hitting .194 (7-for-36). Three of his hits were bunts.

"I've just got to find holes right now," Blanco said. "I think I'm having good at-bats. I've just got to keep working hard and I know it's going to be there."

It was there with Atlanta -- he batted .310 in 36 games.

Blanco has become the replacement for leadoff batter Scott Podsednik, who was swapped to the Dodgers.

"He's the same type [of] hitter where, I don't want to say he slashes the ball, but he's a guy that can drive the gaps and he can bunt. He can bunt better than [Podsednik] and he has a weapon there," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"But Scotty was a veteran leadoff guy. He took pitches, he knew what to do when he got on first base, but Gregor is a guy that's just starting to come up a little bit. He has great abilities but he still has learning to do in understanding jumps and when to steal and how to steal.

"But he's got tremendous assets, and it's fun to take those guys that have that kind of ability and mold them and teach them to be the leadoff-type hitter he can be."

Basestealing requires a lot of study and Blanco is trying to hurry the process.

"You've got pick up what the pitcher is doing right away. So the more you can learn about a pitcher quickly is better," he said.

Blanco missed two games for the birth of his son, Gregor Jr., in Atlanta and, upon his return, missed half a game with heat exhaustion. But he's going full-tilt now and looking for hits.

"Once I find the holes, it's going to be a lot of fun," he said.