Vogelsong looks terrific in Cactus League debut


Vogelsong looks terrific in Cactus League debut

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.
RELATED: Elbow tests for Eric Surkamp

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.

'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series


'We're not the worst' banner at stake in Giants-Phillies series

Nobody is paying much attention to this, and for good reason I grant you, but the Giants could end the suspense over which bad National League team is the worst National League team this weekend.

Plan your snacking regimen accordingly.

San Francisco beat Philadelphia last night, 5-4, to widen its stranglehold on 14th place in the National League to four full games. Further success this weekend could widen that to five or even eight games, and that would almost be enough to create an impromptu parade around the ballpark.

The Giants’ future is too amorphous to consider quite yet – we know this by the absurd suggestions that they could be the next home for Giancarlo Stanton.

And you thought the Warriors-to-chase-Paul-George stories were absurd.

But we digress.

The Giants are still figuring out what a rebuild would look like, and how that rebuild would manifest itself, but until it does, there is still the Ypres-like slog of the 2017 season to endure. And this weekend right here is about all that is left.

There is no spoiling the Dodgers’ march to regular season glory. There are no postseason awards for any individual to chase. Catching the Padres for fourth seems increasingly unlikely.

Now there could be a question about whether Bruce Bochy wants to return but none about whether the Giants would do anything to him, and if you need something to chew on, Bobby Evans’ longterm future as general manager might be sufficiently gristly, though we doubt it will result in anything.

There is only the raising of the “WE’RE NOT THE WORST” banner over the promenade in right field. And this looks like the weekend when it can be best be decided. Like we said, snack accordingly.

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose


Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

The last time Tim Lincecum pitched on a MLB mound was Aug. 5, 2016. Lincecum only lasted 3 1/3 innings in front of his hometown Seattle fans while doused in Angels red. The final image of Lincecum may be in an Angels jersey, but it's also with a Giants-orange glove on his left hand. 

If that is the last time Lincecum ever pitches again in the bigs, Aug. 5, 2016 will go down as a date many hope to forget as The Freak was a diminished version of himself. Remember the date, not so much the year. 

Exactly 10 years before that last pitch, Lincecum became Giant. Only two months after going No. 10 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft, Lincecum made his San Jose Giants debut on Aug. 5, 2006. He started the game against the Bakersfield Blaze and allowed two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings pitched while striking out five. 

Lincecum's stint in San Jose only lasted six games, including Game 1 of the playoffs. At 22 years old, Lincecum went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA, struck out 48 batters in 27.2 innings pitched, and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average, which somehow is a career-high for his time in the minors with Giants affiliates.

Here's how Joe Ritzo, the voice of the San Jose Giants, remembers the time San Jose fans witnessed a sight unlike anything else with Lincecum.  

Q: What was your first impression of Lincecum in San Jose? 

A: Unique talent. Everyone knew he was a first-round draft pick and there was a lot of hype and a lot of high expectations for him when he joined us. He went out there and was just dominant from the very first start. He was just a fun guy to watch because he gave you such a different look out there as a smaller pitcher with an unusual motion and then the ball coming out at 95, 96 miles an hour with this big curve ball as well that hitters in the California League just couldn't touch. And he was going up against hitters in this league -- in many cases with two, three, four years of professional experience -- and Tim was playing college baseball two months earlier.

I thought he was the best pitcher in this league when he was there those final six or so weeks of the season. A lot of fun to watch. I think our fans here really looked forward to his starts because you had a pretty good idea he probably wasn't going to be in San Jose for too long. 

Q: Did he remind you anybody else or was he completely different? 

A: Oh no, I mean he was totally his own guy. He was a very unique pitcher and the way he operated out there with the motion that not a lot of people had seen before. It was like something I don't think anyone had ever really experienced that year in San Jose. 

I remember our manager back then, Lenn Sakata, saying that when he first saw Tim when he walked in he thought he was the batboy. It was just this little guy with this baby face. It was like, 'No, that's your new ace pitcher.' Then he went out there and was just spectacular and kind of made you sit up in your chair and go, 'Whoa! This guy could be sometin' special.'

Q: Was that your real first impression? Just how he looked so small, but was amazing on the mound. 

A: Yeah, I mean he looked like a kid out there. Like I said earlier, I think he was the best pitcher in the California League those final few weeks of the season and he was our Game 1 starter in the playoffs that September, and won that start. I think we all knew that he was gonna move quickly through the system with what we saw here in San Jose. 

Q: Is he the best pitcher you've ever seen at that level? 

A: I think he's the best pitcher I've seen here in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner was pretty spectacular as well, and like Tim, was only here for a short amount of time. But Tim, the stuff was just electric. And you had a feeling watching him, he could probably go up to the big leagues the next day and get people out.

He goes to Triple-A the next year, I think he was only there for a month, and then he's in the big leagues so that kind of turned out to be pretty true. A special talent. 

Q: With the Giants, what is your favorite Tim Lincecum memory? 

A: My favorite memory was how he pitched the final game of the World Series in 2010. I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up a Giants fan and I was a fan like anyone else that October and was all caught up in what was going on with that team and loving every minute of it. He was outstanding as everyone knows during that playoff run and it was fitting that he got a chance to be out there in what turned out to be the clinching game in Texas.

That I think was the moment for me that sticks with me after all these years with Tim Lincecum as a Giant. 

Q: Do you think we'll ever see someone else like a Tim Lincecum? 

A: I don't know. I don't know how you teach what he did. It clearly worked for him. I'm not sure if we'll ever see anything like that ever again. It was pretty incredible watching him here in San Jose because it was like a motion we've never seen. I think at that time, he wasn't really refined as the pitcher that he became at the major league level with changing speeds a lot, becoming more of a pitcher.

He was flat out overpowering in San Jose and they couldn't hit him here. I don't know if we'll ever see anything quite like that motion and the size, just the whole package he had back then.