Vogelsong throws bullpen session in San Diego
Despite one fan texting 6,000 times in support of Hunter Pence, the Giants' outfielder did not win the All-Star Game Final Vote campaign. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN DIEGO – After losing the final fan ballot, Hunter Pence delivered one heck of a concession speech.
He isn’t delivering one on the Giants’ season, though. Far from it.
In congratulating Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman, who beat out the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig for a spot on the NL All-Star team, Pence said he felt like a winner, too.
“I’m really happy for him, and honestly, I’ve gotta say that all the responses I got on Twitter, all the backing I got from the city and all the fans – it’s all very motivational and inspiring,” said Pence, who finished third. “It was a lot of fun. There were so many funny comments and texts.
“One fan said I texted for you 6,000 times. I want them to know that their efforts are greatly appreciated. I wish I could explain just how much it means and how inspirational it was.”
Was it hard to get so upbeat about the #VotePence campaign while the team was on such an awful slide?
“I try to keep it as positive as possible no matter what,” Pence said. “Anyone in any job will have tough times. But we have a blessed opportunity to be able to compete for the Giants. So it’s a remarkable place to be.”
Pence said he recently read a quote by Babe Ruth that inspired him: “It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up.” He’s hoping the Giants can adopt that as a slogan after losing 14 of their last 16 to fall into last place in the NL West.
“History has shown this can flip,” said Pence, who also referred to the 2005 Astros club that started the year 15-30 before turning it around.
Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens kept that team pushing and they ended up winning 91 games. (They had gotten back to 44-46 through 90 games, though, which is better than the Giants’ current 40-50 record.)
For now, Pence is in a 3-for-36 slide. So getting some more production out of him would be mean more than any rhetoric. But you know what they say: dream it before you do it. At least Pence has gotten that far.
It almost got him to the All-Star game.
Did he consider it a campaign failure that he didn’t offer free hugs to voters, as Freeman did?
“That was not a tactical error on my part but it was a great tactic on his part,” Pence said. “Everyone wants hugs.”
The Giants called up Jean Machi in part because George Kontos must begin serving his three-game suspension on Thursday. The league upheld his punishment and rejected his appeal.
Jeff Francoeur will join the active roster from Fresno “when we think he’s ready,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Santiago Casilla will be activated Friday or Saturday, Bochy said. Casilla, who has recovered from surgery to remove a bone cyst near his knee, threw off a bullpen mound Thursday with no problems.
Ryan Vogelsong threw 30 pitches, all fastballs, in his first bullpen session since breaking his pinky finger at the end of May. He said he expects to have swelling in his hand until the offseason, but felt good off a mound.
He said he felt ahead of where he’d be if this were the first mound session of spring training. He’s still got a long road ahead as he rebuilds arm strength and gets his timing down. He won’t be ready when eligible to come off the 60-day DL on July 20. It’s looking more like a return sometime in August.