Vogelsong a hulking presence as Giants beat Rangers

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Vogelsong a hulking presence as Giants beat Rangers

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SAN FRANCISCO Bruce Bochy calls it maniacal focus. RyanVogelsong calls it game mode.

The rest of the Giants call it a reason to poke some fun.

Well these guys give me some grief about that, saidVogelsong, after another masterful performance at AT&T Park in a 5-2victory over the Texas Rangers.

That would be the trance, or blood fever, or whatevermental and physiological transformation washes over Vogelsong in the hours before a start.It begins a day before, actually. Then, for a night game, hes no good to theworld by lunchtime. He becomes asdead quiet as detention in the library.

He's so intense, you almost expect him to turn green and bulge out of his tattered clothing.

Its probably because when I had my struggles, it alwaysgot back to that, said Vogelsong, who had a six-year hiatus from the majorleagues before discovering himself as a first-time All-Star last season.

He tries to be polite and interact with a teammate or answera question when its put to him, but

When Im in game mode, I like to stay there, he said.Its about focus and being absolutely committed to making pitches. Sometimesit starts at 12:30 in the afternoon, sometimes at 2.

These guys give me grief but sometimes thats the wayits got to be.

Even if he has to bring it home sometimes. With an afternoongame Saturday, Vogelsong had to start putting up mental walls Friday night. Howdoes that work for his wife, Nicole?

It was tough for her at first, he said. She knows. Shegets it.

Its hard to argue with the results. Vogelsong looks to bepunching his pass to another All-Star Game after putting forth another feisty,never-give-in effort. This time, he went a season-high 7 23 innings and heldthe Texas Rangers, easily the best and most dangerous offensive club in themajor leagues, to three hits. He took a shutout into the eighth.

When he handed over the baseball at 111 pitches, he had a5-1 lead and the bases empty. He had every reason to skip to his loo back tothe dugout.

Instead, he looked like he wanted to rearrange manager BruceBochys face.

What is it Bill Bixby used to say? "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

He does have that look, even when you go out to get theball, Bochy said. Thats what you want. Its one pitch at a time, and henever loses that focus. Its fun to watch because hes that way from the firstpitch of the game.

Watching Vogelsong is like watching a really good thrillermovie or spending a great day at the beach. You look up and wonder how timepassed so quickly. How is it the seventh inning, already? How is the sun aboutto go down?

But heres the most interesting thing about a Vogelsong dayat the ballpark: For all his maniacal focus, for all the internalization andthe elimination of external stimuli, hes still a pitcher who competes onemotion. It fuels him like coal in a furnace. Probably more than anyone else on the Giants staff, he lets momentumcarry him.

No wonder hes got a 1.47 ERA at AT&T Park this season.

The energy in this place, it just kind of gets me going,he said. The fans are always with us, always behind us. It gets me going. Idont know what to say other than that. I dont pitch any differently on theroad. But here, it definitely takes me to another notch.

Vogelsong wins because he never gives in. Thats the easiestway to put it. He doesnt yield to the count or the scoreboard. Hell try tomake a pitchers pitch, every time. And usually, he gets close enough.

Its pretty simple, Bochy said. Youve got to execute,and Vogey is as good as anybody. He throws four pitches and he throws them verywell. Hes been consistent all year, really. He throws hard and he commands hisfastball, which you have to do.

Said Vogelsong, after allowing just a solo homer to MitchMoreland: I had all four pitches working and I just tried to keep moving theball around on those guys. Theyre obviously a very talented offensive team. Iwas just trying to hit Busters glove and let them put it in play, and let ourguys catch it. Those guys came through today. They made bunches of nice plays.

If Vogelsong has faith in his teammates, its reciprocal. Hehas completed at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts. Notonce has he pitched less than six innings. His 2.26 ERA is fourth best amongall major league starters.

And the Giants are 7-0 in his last seven starts.

I just try to do what Im supposed to do, he said. I justtry to stay in as long as I can, keep them off the board as long as I can, andits translating to wins right now.

Vogelsong takes a lot of pride in his work, as anyone would.But the former Kutztown University shortstop takes a lot of pride in hishitting, too. So he definitely was relieved when he singled in his first at-batto collect his first hit of the year.

Vogelsong, perhaps affected by the back stiffness that puthim on the DL to start the year, had been 0-for-20 with 18 strikeouts.

He was explaining to reporters that he had to give credit toBuster Posey and hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulens for giving him someadvice. And what was it, exactly?

Dont miss the ball, came a shout from the other side ofthe clubhouse, likely Matt Cain or Jeremy Affeldt.

Posey told him he had developed an uppercut. Meulens toldhim to just let your hands go.

Throw the bat at the ball? Well, it couldnt get much worse,right?

Sometimes simple is the best way to go, right? Vogelsongsaid.

So...hell let Bochy live for taking him out?

Uhmmmm...It was getting close, getting close, he said,finally allowing himself to ease into a smile. He made the right move.

Giants sign veteran catcher Nick Hundley

Giants sign veteran catcher Nick Hundley

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants announced a one-year deal with catcher Nick Hundley on Tuesday, giving them a veteran backup behind Buster Posey. 

Hundley received a Major League deal worth about $2 million, putting him in pole position in the battle to be the second catcher. The 33-year-old has spent nine seasons in the big leagues, the majority of them with the Padres. He hit .260 with 10 homers last season with the Rockies. 

“His experience overall brings added value to our club,” general manager Bobby Evans said, noting that Hundley is very familiar with the NL West. “The attractive elements of his game and experience bring needed depth for us.” 

Hundley getting a Major League deal means he’s almost certainly ticketed for an opening day job, ousting incumbent Trevor Brown, who spent all of 2016 in the big leagues. Brown hit .237 with five homers in his first full big league season, but the Giants had quietly been looking for a more experienced option who could allow Brown — 25 years old and still relatively new to catching — to get additional seasoning in Triple-A. 

The Giants have not fully ruled out carrying three catchers. Brown, who was drafted as an infielder, occasionally takes ground balls at second and third, and there has been some discussion about a more varied role. 

“It is with some mixed feelings about how much to move him around off catching because catching is a very complex and difficult challenge,” Evans said. “When you move him around you don’t want to take away from what he’s doing behind the plate and at the same time you don’t want him to get hurt at another position. But (manager Bruce Bochy) and I have discussed the fact that we’ll look at him more at different positions this spring than we have in the past because we appreciate the value that he brings.”

The Giants have spent all offseason looking to add a third catcher to the mix, and if Brown is in Triple-A, they will have a third catcher on the 40-man roster who can be optioned back and forth. There will be veterans in camp on non-roster deals, including Tim Federowicz, but opt-out clauses may leave the depth chart short when the regular season arrives. 

In Hundley, the Giants have an option who should provide a little pop off the bench and lessen the drop off when Posey gets a day off. Evans said this move does not indicate that Posey will get additional rest or time at first base in 2017. He caught a career-high 122 games in 2016, winning his first Gold Glove Award. 

“The more we can keep Buster behind the plate and healthy, the stronger our team is,” Evans said. “The ideal is to keep him back there as much as possible and 120 (games) is a very fair target.”

Hundley, a native of the Northwest, is the second player signed to a big league deal this offseason, joining new closer Mark Melancon. The Giants do not expect to make another move of significance. To clear a 40-man roster spot, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment. If the Giants can’t line up a minor trade, Adrianza will return to the organization.

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

The Dodgers' months-long search for a second baseman is over.

Los Angeles has acquired infielder Logan Forsythe from the Rays, the team announced Monday afternoon.

The Dodgers are sending top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay.

In 127 games for the Rays in 2016, the 30-year-old Forsythe hit .264/.333/.444 with 24 doubles, 20 home runs and 52 RBI.

Forsythe is set to make $7 million in 2017 and has a team option worth $8.5 million or a $1 million buyout for 2018.

De Leon, 24, made his major league debut for the Dodgers during the 2016 season. In four starts, he posted a 6.35 ERA while striking out 15 batters in 17 innings. In 16 startts for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2016, De Leon registered a 2.61 ERA and struck out 111 batters in just 86.1 innings.

A native of Puerto Rico, De Leon was recently ranked as the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect Baseball America.

For most of the offseason, the Dodgers had been linked to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, but the two sides couldn't come together on a deal.