SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – We diligent beat reporters failed you. We forgot to ask Ryan Vogelsong if he made sure to dine on #RallyEnchiladas the night before starting the Giants’ first game on the Cactus League schedule on Saturday.
But I’ll bet you a shot of Mezcal that he did. In every other respect, Vogelsong said he gave his two-inning start the usual blood-fever concentration that he employs in games that matter.
“I’m trying to get my mind to work the way it does in the regular season,” Vogelsong said. “It’s not just physical preparation. It’s getting your mind to work the way it should with runners on base. If you’re concentrating and you’re focused, it can overcome not being physically ready.”
That’s one of the topics that he discussed recently with sure-fire Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who will be his pitching coach when he leaves to join Team USA’s camp next week in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.
Vogelsong only has one, perhaps two more starts for the Giants before he heads to the WBC. He only needs to stretch out to 60 pitches, which will be the limit that Team USA plans to employ. He threw roughly 30 pitches against the Angels in the Giants’ 4-1 exhibition victory.
“We talked pitching, a little strategy, just how I think,” Vogelsong said. “It was a good conversation.”
This is an interesting spring in more ways than one. Not only does Vogelsong need to be ready earlier than normal (he starts March 9 against Italy at Chase Field), but he had a short offseason after helping to pitch the Giants past the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
He said not to worry, he had enough rest. He pointed out that he pitched 60 innings of winter ball in Venezuela prior to the 2011 season, when he transformed himself from non-roster free agent to All Star.
And he got in a bit of his favorite offseason activity – some therapeutic snow shoveling in Pennsylvania over the winter.
“Just enough,” he said, smiling.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said all the starting position players from Saturday’s Cactus League game would be off on Sunday, with the exception of Brandon Belt. The manager plans to play Belt at first base against the Cubs at Mesa. Brandon Crawford, Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco will make the trip, too. And Matt Cain will start against Jeff Samardzija.
Buster Posey only caught three innings, but that was by design. Bochy is going to take it very lightly with most players, since games are starting almost a week earlier than usual.
Posey had one at-bat and made hard, Poseyesque contact – a fly out into the right field corner.
One position player who isn’t ready for game action is Hector Sanchez. He has a sore shoulder and is being held out as a precaution, Bochy said. Sanchez will try throwing to bases on Monday.
Gary Brown and Roger Kieschnick will get a lot of time in the outfield this spring, and Brown got off to a nice start with a double and a run scored. He advanced the final 180 feet on a pair of ground outs.
It was a nice day for Giants relievers, who only allowed one run – and that came against Chad Gaudin when Sandoval dropped a potential double-play grounder with runners at the corners and one out. Sandoval had to take the forceout at first base as a run scored in the fourth inning.
Sergio Romo entered to the familiar tooting horns of “El Mechon” and struck out one in a scoreless inning.
And George Kontos looked good while getting a strikeout and double-play grounder, improving his chances of winning the GABBY Award. (To find out what the heck that is, and to cast your vote, click here.)
Kontos is from Chicago, so he’s very comfortable with the notion of your voting more than once.