Vogelsong scheduled to make spring debut Saturday

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Vogelsong scheduled to make spring debut Saturday

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's still a chance that Ryan Vogelsong will begin the season in the Giants rotation and not on the disabled list.

But he'll need everything to go perfectly from this point forward.

Vogelsong, who was sidelined for three weeks because of a strained lower back, threw roughly 40 pitches while facing hitters on a back field Tuesday morning. Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted improvement from Vogelsong's previous live batting practice session and said the right-hander would throw an inning in Saturday's home split-squad against the Colorado Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium.

The Giants could use a day off on their season-opening road trip to operate with four starting pitchers the first time through the rotation; they wouldn't need a fifth starter until April 15, the ninth game of the season.

Vogelsong could be disabled and back-dated to be eligible to pitch on April 15. A DL move also would allow the Giants to wedge another player onto the roster -- maybe a third catcher in Hector Sanchez, to give Buster Posey a little extra protection in the season's first week.

After everything Vogelsong accomplished last season, though, Bochy wants to give him every chance to break with the team.

"It'll be a tough call when spring training is over," Bochy said. "We'll get him up to five innings and 70 pitches, and then we'll have a decision to make. Barring any setbacks or hiccups, it'll be real close whether he makes that first start or not."

Vogelsong, a minor league free agent a year ago, ended up leading the rotation (and ranking fourth in the NL) with a 2.71 ERA. The 34-year-old also was an emotional first-time All-Star. He signed a two-year, 8.3 million contract over the winter; the deal includes a club option for 2014.

He faced Freddy Sanchez, Conor Gillaspie, Justin Christian and Mike Fontenot in his live BP session. Vogelsong appeared to be throwing without restriction and was around the plate with most of his pitches, although he labored a bit toward the end.

Vogelsong threw in one long session without simulating inning breaks. Bochy said he only wanted Vogelsong to throw one inning on Saturday because "he'll be amped up and we don't want any setbacks."

Nor can he afford them.

Giants lineup: Span leading off vs Cubs after missing two games

Giants lineup: Span leading off vs Cubs after missing two games

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Giants-Cubs coverage begins at 4pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming right here.

After missing the last two games with a sprained left thumb, Denard Span is back at the top of the Giants lineup Wednesday in Chicago.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
8. Mac Williamson (R) RF
9. Matt Moore (L) P

Chicago Cubs:
1. Javier Baez (R) 2B
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) LF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Addison Russell (R) SS
8. Miguel Montero (L) C
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) P

Down on the Farm: Beede earns third win with River Cats on 24th birthday

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AP

Down on the Farm: Beede earns third win with River Cats on 24th birthday

Tyler Beede stepped on the hill at Raley Field in Sacramento on Tuesday night one year older and came away with one more win after the River Cats defeated the Memphis Redbirds, 6-2. 

Beede, now 24 years old, didn’t churn out his most impressive or dominant performance, but he limited hits and found a way to earn his third win of the year. On the night, he completed 5 1/3 innings pitched and only allowed four hits and two earned runs. He did, however, walk more batters (3) than strikeouts (2), which is his lowest strikeout total in a game this season. 

Those numbers shouldn’t be too surprising when looking at Beede’s trends this season on the mound. In his nine starts for the River Cats, he is walking slightly more batters than last year when he was in Double-A Richmond, and he’s significantly striking out less batters. Through 49 innings pitched, which leads the River Cats, Beede is issuing 3.31 walks per nine innings (3.24 BB/9 in 2016) while only striking out 5.88 batters per nine, compared to 8.25 K/9 last year. 

Instead, the Giants’ top pitching prospect is turning to ground balls, setting him up smarter for the future. After forcing seven groundouts to three flyouts on Tuesday, he is now rolling ground balls 56.5 percent of the time, an increase from 47.9 percent last season. 

Sacramento plays in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. All teams outside of the River Cats, who are last in the league with a team batting average of .238, are averaging just over five runs per game and almost one homer every game. Beede, isn’t letting the ball fly through air and has only allowed three homers off of him this season. This plays well for his and the Giants’ future. 

Whenever Beede finds his way to San Francisco, he doesn’t need to rely on his mid-90s fastball to get outs. The strikeouts will come, but life will be much easier watching a Gold Glove infield scoop up grounders for years to come. 

While Beede waits his turn to join the bigs, he’s showing maturity on the hill and stayed undefeated at home on a birthday night to remember. 

Around The Horn

— The Giants’ top power prospect, Chris Shaw, has been called up from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Sacramento. Shaw, 23, played only first base in the minors before this season, but has transitioned to left field. He played 18 games at first and 18 games at left for the Flying Squirrels, registering no errors in the outfield. 

— Kelby Tomlinson is working in center field while with the River Cats. Insider Alex Pavlovic spoke to Bruce Bochy about the move

— Bryan Reynolds, the Giants’ top pick in 2016, finished a home run short of the cycle on Sunday. He went 5-for-6 with four RBI in the San Jose Giants’ win. On the season, Reynolds now has 14 multi-hit games in 38 games played. Here’s the breakdown: Six two-hit games, seven three-hit games and one five-hit game.