SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. It will be hard for Ryan Vogelsong towrite a worthy follow-up story to his remarkable, memorable and emotional All-Starseason in 2011.
But his opening lines were expertly written Monday.
Vogelsongs first appearance against big league hitters thisspring was a complete success. He made it through 2 23 innings against the Kansas City Royals on his 40-pitchlimit, he threw strikes with all his pitches, his breaking stuff had nasty snapand his fastball hit 92 mph.
His strained lower back didnt enter his mind once, he said.
Get the first one out of the way, Vogelsong said. Getback to business.
The Giants needed to see it. Earlier in the day, they sentyoung left-hander Eric Surkamp to the MRI chamber to have his sore left elbowexamined. They dont have much rotation depth in the system. Barry Zito iscoming off a wretched outing, too.
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Vogelsong is still expected to begin the season on the disabledlist as the Giants use a day off on their opening road trip to operate with afour-man rotation. Theyll need a fifth starter on April 15 nine games intothe season and theyre hoping Vogelsong will be ready to slide into the foldon that day.
Maybe the least worried person was Vogelsong.
No, I was pretty confident I was going to be OK, he said. Ithink you guys (in the media) were more suspect than anything else."
Yet Vogelsong also said: You cant simulate game speed. Toget the game speed out of the way relaxes my mind more than anything. Now I canget ready for the season and work on my pitches and get this back thing out ofmy mind.
Vogelsong allowed a run on two hits, but one was a fly ballthat Nate Schierholtz dropped on the warning track in right field. Vogelsongstruck out two both on called breaking balls and didnt walk a batter.
It was definitely better the second and third inning, Vogelsongsaid. The first inning was not bad but I definitely felt better mechanicallyand rhythm wise. I got to sit down and get up three times. No issues with myback.
No issues when he fielded a bunt, either.
To be honest, I havent thought about it at all when Im onthe mound, he said. I go to a space mentally where I dont heard the crowd,I dont hear the music. I just focus on hitting that glove as much as I can.
I wanted to control my emotions against big league hittersand I did. I kept myself poised and under control. I got into a rhythm and thepitches were there. I fielded a bunt. I did everything I wanted to.
And what if Vogelsong has to stay in Arizona and pitch in aminor league game, and possibly another at Triple-A Fresno, as his compatriotsjet off to start the season?
If thats what they tell me to do, thats what I need todo, said Vogelsong, whose past experience rehabbing from Tommy John surgeryhas helped him stay patient. Theres 25 on the big league roster and itswhats best for all of us to get us where we need to be.
Brian Wilson followed Vogelsong and allowed a hit in ascoreless inning. He struck out one and his fastball was in the 93 mph range.Wilson is expected to be ready for a save situation when the Giants open theseason April 6.