Vogelsong 'letting it go' in return to mound


Vogelsong 'letting it go' in return to mound

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Ryan Vogelsong hadnt stepped on a moundsince he strained his lower back in the weight room a month ago. As he toed therubber Thursday morning, you couldnt blame him for wanting to take it easy.

No, really. You couldnt blame him.

I was letting it go, said Vogelsong, after his 25-pitchsession. I threw everything. I dont dial back in bullpens, ever. I dontduring the season. I never have, never will.

I throw my bullpens like Im pitching in a game. I want toget after it. Thats the way I pitch.

Almost halfway through spring training, Vogelsong isstarting from scratch. Any more setbacks would make it difficult for him to be readyfor the season-opening rotation.

Although Vogelsong was confident enough in his lower back tothrow at full intensity, he isnt making any pronouncements about being readyfor the season.

I quit asking, he said. Im not making the schedule. Ivetried not to be a pain in the butt, always asking, Whats next? Whats next? Justshow up, do what Im supposed to do and take it from there.

Vogelsong doesnt expect any more setbacks, though.

I wasnt too concerned about it, to be honest, aftereverything weve done, said Vogelsong, who did so many core and rotationalexercises that he probably had dreams about them. Weve tested it pretty good.

I was more curious about how my pitches were going to comeout, and it was better than I thought it would be, but not by a lot. Thelocation was pretty good for not throwing off a mound for a month.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said Vogelsong could buildarm strength quickly, since he did plenty of throwing before his back went outwhile doing power squats. The injury was significant enough to warrant an anti-inflammatory injection, but Vogelsong hasn't required any follow-up shots.

Vogelsong, 34, was an inspirational first-time All-Star lastseason. His 2.71 ERA led the Giants rotation and ranked fourth in the NationalLeague. His return to form is critical for a team expected to win behind its pitching and defense.

If Vogelsong isnt ready to open as the No.4 starter, theGiants could turn to left-handers Brian Burres or Eric Surkamp. Since thatwould give the club left-handers in the Nos. 3-5 slots, the club would move upleft-hander Madison Bumgarner into the No.2 slot between Tim Lincecum and MattCain.

The Giants open April 6 at Arizona, but a fifth starterwouldnt be absolutely necessary until April 15.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.