Giants hope to 'fill in the blanks' with Vogelsong

Vogelsong vows not to have a repeat of 2013 season

Giants hope to 'fill in the blanks' with Vogelsong
September 28, 2013, 12:30 am
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36-year-old Ryan Vogelsong posted a 5.90 ERA in 18 starts this season. The Giants hold a $6.5 million option on the righthander. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti went to the mound to tell Ryan Vogelsong that he’d be facing his last hitter of the night – and his last hitter of the season. 

Given his contract situation, it could’ve been his last hitter as a Giant, too.

“Yeah, but I didn’t hear that,” Vogelsong said. “He said something along those lines but I kind of tuned that part out and went along to the part with the scouting report and what we needed to do to get him out.

“I wanted that to be my last hitter. I didn’t want them to have to make a decision. 

He got Alexi Amarista to line out, ending the sixth inning and stranding two runners in the Giants’ 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Vogelsong ended a difficult season with his first win since Aug. 25. He’ll end with a 4-6 record and a 5.79 ERA in a year that started off rocky and then got worse when his pinky finger was dislocated and crushed when hit by a pitch May 20.

That’s the end. Now begins the uncertainty.

And although GM Brian Sabean said the club is still discussing how Vogelsong’s $6.5 million club option might fit within the budget, the unsaid understanding among all parties seems to be that the right-hander will return in some form.

“We really have to fill in the blanks with what went haywire with Vogey,” Sabean said. “He was so good for us last year, and that's the whole team. The effort that they put forth, and the energy they expended, you wonder the residual effects not only into this year but next year. And he's got some mileage.

“But this guy is a warrior. He's forever found a way to re-invent himself. And if anyone should get a pass about what didn't go right this year, it's certainly him.”

Those comments were passed along to Vogelsong after his start. And he most definitely heard them.

“That means a lot coming from him,” Vogelsong said. “He’s obviously been around this game a long time and seen a lot of players. To have him come out with the warrior tag, that’s what you strive for. You want people to know you’ll give everything you have every single night.

“Lay it out there and see what the outcome is. That’s what I’ve tried to do the last three years here. This year didn’t go the way I’d like but I’m going to get better and make sure this season won’t happen to me next season. Part of that is having the mentality that you’ll leave it out there every single night.”

The Giants have to decide if that will be enough as they seek to upgrade a staff that just hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the NL’s elite. Entering the final weekend, the Giants’ 4.32 rotation ERA was better than only the Phillies and Rockies. The Dodgers were tops, at 3.16.

“We're still discussing -- maybe more so because of the budget, nothing to do with Vogey's (latest) start -- how we can build the best and strongest pitching staff, because of what we're up against with the Dodgers staff or with the other four teams that made it into the playoffs from the National League,” Sabean said.

Translation: Can Vogelsong’s $6.5 million be better spent elsewhere?

If so, there’s still a very good chance that the right-hander ends up back with the Giants.

“I’ve really been working hard all year on stuff,” he said. “I’ve had a hard time getting comfortable with the delivery all year. I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on this offseason and I’m probably closer than I think I am.”

As for expectations, Vogelsong said he doesn’t have any.

“I’ve never been in (free agency) before,” said the 36-year-old right-hander. “I’ll go home and wait and see what happens. I told you guys what I’d like to see happen, but as you know, in this game, you don’t know.”