SAN FRANCISCO – Ryan Vogelsong convinced the Giants he’s ready to return, so the right-hander will come off the disabled list and rejoin the rotation Friday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday that there was a good chance Vogelsong would make a fifth minor league rehab start to further test his readiness after being sidelined 2½ months with a fractured right pinky. But Vogelsong’s dominant performance Sunday for Double-A Richmond, plus the pitcher’s own conviction that he’s ready, sealed the decision to bring him back now.
“Could we start him again (in the minors)? Yeah, we could maybe take him up to 95, 100 pitches,” Bochy said before Monday’s homestand opener against Milwaukee. “But we think he’s ready and he thinks he’s ready, which is the most important thing. And Vogey, he’s one of those guys we trust. He’s honest with the club and thinks he’s good to go.”
Vogelsong’s return means Guillermo Moscoso will slide into a long reliever role for the time being, Bochy said. So where does that leave Barry Zito, who was replaced in the rotation Sunday by Moscoso?
Bochy talked on Monday with Zito, who has pitched to a 5.09 ERA so far in the final season of a seven-year, $126 million contract. For now, Bochy says Zito will continue to be a bullpen option, and “I’ll try to find some starts for him. But you’re in a box a little bit with Vogelsong coming back and, of course, Chad (Gaudin) with the way he’s throwing the ball. We’re not gonna go to a six-man rotation right now.
“(Zito) wants to be out there starting, sure. That goes without saying. He’s a competitor and he’s got a lot of pride. (But) I have to go with the five that are throwing the best right now.”
With Moscoso in need of a couple days’ rest after throwing 4 2/3 innings Sunday against Tampa Bay, Zito might be the primary option should a starting pitcher falter early in the next couple of games.
As for Vogelsong, he’s excited to be returning after he was hit on the right hand by a pitch from the Washington Nationals’ Craig Stammen on May 20. He went 2-1 with a 1.72 in four rehab starts with the Giants’ rookie league team, Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond.
Vogelsong, 36, endured a roller coaster career until finally blossoming with the Giants in 2011, and he said his temporary return to the minors gave him a renewed appreciation for life in the bigs.
“It makes you remember what it took to get here in the first place,” Vogelsong said. “Obviously my story is a lot different than most, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about what it took to get here. But the last couple of weeks has been a 'right-in-your-face’ reminder.”