Snubbed Vogelsong: 'People don't take me seriously'


Snubbed Vogelsong: 'People don't take me seriously'

SAN FRANCISCO Giants manager Bruce Bochy was concernedabout Ryan Vogelsong.

Bochy knew what a second consecutive All-Star selectionwould mean to him. He knew the validation it would bring.

He knew Vogelsong was about to get snubbed.

So he called the ultra-intense right-hander into his officeas soon as he arrived at AT&T Park on Sunday morning, and delivered thenews. In the hours before he took the ball against the Cincinnati Reds,Vogelsong flipped a clubhouse television to the selection show.

He watched thewhole thing anyway.

He knew his name wouldnt be called. It wasnt.

But maybe that was all part of his routine.

Vogelsong went out and pitched like he always does breathing fire, and with a sizable chip on his shoulder. He held the Reds tothree hits, a walk and a hit batter in seven innings, and although the Giantsblew his decision in the ninth, they accepted a gift from right fielder JayBruce while rallying for a draining, 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Vogelsong still could be named as an All-Star injuryreplacement. So could left-hander Madison Bumgarner. But listening to Vogelsongtalk, its clear his chance at validation has passed.

Shouldve pitched better, he said, with a flash in hiseyes as if he was still on the mound, still trying to throw the ball throughBuster Poseys glove.

Does the snub thicken up that chip on his shoulder?

Absolutely, came the swift reply. What it does issolidify what I told you (last month) in Anaheim. People dont take meseriously.

Last year, Bochy was the NL skipper and said his greatestAll-Star moment was to reward Vogelsong, who had gone five years without appearingin a big league game only to become a breakout success with the team that hadtraded him a decade earlier.

You heard the talk last year, that the only reason I gotthere was because of Boch, Vogelsong said. Some of that is probably true. Theother part is I was having a pretty good first half.

He is having a better half now. Vogelsongs 2.26 ERA is thelowest on the staff and tied for fourth lowest in the NL. He has thrown qualitystarts in 14 of 15 outings. He yields almost nothing at AT&T Park, where helets the sellout crowds stoke his passion on the mound.

That passion boiled over in the sixth inning, after Redsright-hander Bronson Arroyo brushed back Vogelsong twice as he tried to getdown a sacrifice bunt. Vogelsong glared at the mound after the first one puthim in the dirt. After the second one, he took two steps toward Arroyo, slammedhis bat and screamed a few choice words that an amateur lip reader might havedeciphered thusly: Vacuum bush league! What the fork are youre doing?

Benches cleared but no punches were thrown. Once order wasrestored, Vogelsong put down a successful bunt and Arroyo said something to himas he jogged back to the dugout.

He said, My bad, Vogelsong said.

Arroyo called Vogelsong after the game to apologize.

Well, I know he wasnt trying to hit me, so lets get thatout of the way, Vogelsong said. Bronson and I are friends. We played togetherin Pittsburgh. But when youre on the field between the lines, youre notfriends anymore.

Its not the first time Vogelsong reacted angrily tobrushback pitches. Last year in Florida, he slammed his bat and yelled at BurkeBadenhop after consecutive inside pitches, including one that struck him on thetriceps.

I dont think they were trying to hit me at all, Vogelsongsaid after that game last year. It just got me mad. I mean, I dont have anextra-base hit. I dont have a hit in two months.

(The most memorable part of that day was the reactionMarlins manager Jack McKeon, who called Vogelsong Volkswagen and said theright-hander overreacted. Hes lucky he didnt have to face Drysdale or Gibsonand get a haircut and a shave right quick, McKeon said.)

This time, Vogelsong heard Arroyos apology on the field.But he didnt break stride or turn his head to acknowledge it.

When the balls up and in, its not a good feeling, hesaid. It just happened. Hes battling. Youre battling. You just get fired up. Im still a little flustered, in case you cant tell.

Slights, real and imagined, are like ethanol in Vogelsongstank.

Still, Bochy would like to see Vogelsong wear an All-Staruniform again. Thats why he plans to keep in the ear of major leagueofficials, pumping up Vogelsong as a replacement pick.

There are other deserving snubs, though. Theres the MetsJohan Santana, the Reds Johnny Cueto and the Pirates James McDonald.

Its not over yet, Bochy said.

No, its not. Vogelsong said he needs to pitch better in thesecond half to prove last year wasnt a fluke. He knows that wont be enough,either.

Ill probably pitch with a chip on my shoulder for the restof my career, he said.

Given a choice between he and Bumgarner, though, Vogelsongwould rather the 22-year-old lefty become a first-time All-Star.

If it wouldve come down to me and him, Id definitely wanthim to go, Vogelsong said. Its amazing and Im excited for Buster and Melkyto get that experience. I wouldve wanted (Bumgarner) to go.

But I wish I wish we couldve both gone.

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On one of the many nights last season when his bullpen imploded, Bruce Bochy nearly put a catcher on the mound. Trevor Brown ended up playing an inning of third base on June 28 as the Giants gave up eight runs over the final two innings in a brutal loss to the A’s, and he said this week that he was told he was the next man up on the mound. 

That night was an odd one, as a tired bullpen was waiting for Sergio Romo to get activated off a rehab assignment and trying to get by without long reliever Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches out of the ‘pen the night before. The bench was also short because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion DL.

Bochy hopes he doesn’t have to deal with such a situation this season, and not just because the bullpen should be much improved. The disabled list lasts 10 days now, not 15, and Bochy is thrilled with the new rule.

“The DL thing, I really like it,” he said. “You get caught in that gray area so often.” 

Bochy met with league officials on Saturday to go over some of the rule changes. DL stints can now be made retroactive just three days, but it’s still a vast improvement overall. 

“With (position) players and pitchers it’s going to make it easier to DL guys,” Bochy said. “If you’re looking at (starting) pitchers, they could miss just one start.”

The Giants have often played a man or more short, trying to get by day-by-day to give a position player or starter time to heal. Around camp, this could be called the Angel Pagan Rule, as the former Giants outfielder often missed a week or so before officially going on the DL. At times, Bochy has been patient with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, knowing that even if they missed a week, keeping them off the DL could still earn the Giants seven or eight games with a big bat back in the lineup. If a future diagnosis is that a player will miss a week, it’ll be much easier to swallow putting him on the 10-day DL than it was for the 15-day. Likewise, the Giants will take advantage of the change if a pitcher will have to miss a start. 

Bochy has said often that he would like every reliever to go on the DL during the season to freshen up. That’ll make more sense now, and it should keep the Giants from having to play as many games where the bullpen is gassed and a backup catcher is preparing to pitch. For guys like Stratton — a versatile pitcher on the 40-man roster — it should also lead to increased trips up to the big leagues to fill gaps. 

INJURY UPDATE: Pence (side muscle) took 25 swings during a live BP session in the cage and Bochy said he’s doing much better. That was about the only significant activity Sunday. Once again, the workout was rained out. Bochy said the Giants have enough time to get guys ready for the Cactus League opener on Feb. 24, but they’ll likely hold some big-name pitchers out of the early games. Brandon Crawford and Posey will get plenty of early starts to prepare for the WBC. 

PROSPECT WATCH: If the early games are turned over to prospects, Dan Slania will be an interesting guy to watch. Slania is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, so he always had the look of an imposing reliever. But his greatest success last season came after a surprise move to the rotation. 

Slania, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, got a call on his 24th birthday telling him to prepare to start because of an injury in Richmond’s rotation. He had not started a game since high school, but his four-pitch mix worked. He had a 5.32 ERA out of the bullpen but it dropped to 1.48 in 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. In two Triple-A starts, he struck out 14 over 13 innings while allowing just eight hits and two runs. The Giants put him on their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

“He had a great year last year,” Bochy said. “He’s in camp for a reason. He’s got great stuff and a good makeup.”

RULE CHANGE: One more thing that came out of that rules meeting: Managers who are out of challenges now have to wait until the eighth inning to ask an umpire to look at a play.

QUOTABLE: “We know he’s better off taking some days. We talked about it (with him). He agrees that it’ll help him.” Bochy on Pence’s workload. The right fielder is coming off two injury-marred seasons, and the Giants have no intention of even trying to get him back to his Iron Man days. 

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The “options game” can be a cruel one. It can also be one of the most important parts of spring training. 

If two players are relatively even at the end of camp but only one can be optioned to the minors, he’s usually the man left out. Giants officials have already made reference to this several times in discussing left field, where Jarrett Parker — who is out of options — would surely be claimed off waivers if the Giants try to sneak him back to the minors before Opening Day. Mac Williamson, on the other hand, can be shuttled back and forth. 

The same holds true for Kelby Tomlinson, and while it was easy during the first week of camp to see him as the odd man out, manager Bruce Bochy said that’s not the case. What do all the veteran infielders mean for the young one already in-house?

“It hasn’t affected anything for Kelby, really,” Bochy said. “It’s all about competition for spots on this team.”

Tomlinson played 54 games in 2015 and 52 a year ago, but the Giants put a clear emphasis this offseason on finding backup infielders. Jimmy Rollins, Jae-gyun Hwang, Orlando Calixte and Gordon Beckham were among those brought in before camp, and Aaron Hill arrived on the fourth day. Sure, Ehire Adrianza — who was seemingly perpetually out of options — is no longer around, but if the Giants carry just two backup infielders, one of them will almost certainly be Conor Gillaspie. 

Tomlinson isn’t bothered by the offseason of additions. He said he can take knowledge away from six weeks spent with guys he grew up watching.

“Rollins’ prime was right in my later high school years,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got a lot of guys to learn from and watch. It’s a little of both (a competition and learning experience). We’re all fighting for the same job, but we’re still on the same team and we’re all trying to learn from each other and help each other.”

Tomlinson is the incumbent, and the Giants certainly know all about his speed and ability to play all over the field (he continued to take fly balls this winter, just in case). They also now know that Tomlinson adds something that’s needed on any bench. Last season, he emerged as one of Bochy’s most reliable pinch-hitters. 

Tomlinson’s seven pinch-hits were tied for second on the team after Gillaspie’s 11. He was 7-for-17 in a pinch, adding three walks. Tomlinson’s simple swing and up-the-middle approach have proven perfect for important spots. He’s a .315 career hitter with runners in scoring position, a .373 hitter in situations baseball-reference deems “late and close,” and a .367 hitter in “high leverage” spots.

“I’m just trying to compete up there every at-bat, especially in that pinch-hitting role,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a grind, but that makes it fun when you give the team a quality at-bat. Even if it’s not a hit, you go up there and try to see five pitches and have a good at-bat.”

Tomlinson has given the Giants plenty of them over parts of two seasons. With Brandon Crawford headed for the World Baseball Classic, he is sure to see increased time this spring, and while the options game or non-roster list might catch up to him, the Giants haven’t forgotten what they already have. 

“He gives us versatility,” Bochy said, “So he’s in the mix, too.”