Ryan Vogelsong's career has been a journey full of second chances and storybook moments.
After being drafted by the Giants in 1998, he was traded to the Pirates in 2001.
Four rough seasons in Pittsburgh led to Vogelsong pitching in Japan from 2007 to 2009.
He returned to the U.S. in 2010 and after one season in the Phillies organization, he rejoined the Giants where he resurrected his career, earning an All-Star selection in 2011 and winning two World Series rings.
Following the 2014 season, Vogelsong tested free agency and appeared to be headed towards a deal with Houston. But he backed out of that deal and returned to the Giants for one more year. This past offseason, the Giants decided not to bring him back. Rather than hang up his cleats, Vogelsong decided to go back to the place where he struggled so much: Pittsburgh.
"I was not really happy [with] the way things went for me in my Pirates career the first time around. We all know that we don't get a lot of second chances in this life to redo things, and do something differently than before. I thought about that, too, coming back here and changing from the way my first Pirates experience went," Vogelsong told Pirates.com on Sunday.
"I'll be honest with you. The first time I was here, I really didn't have much of a clue what I was doing. I was a thrower. I tried to throw everything as hard as I could, and I didn't really know how to pitch yet. It got tough at times, especially with some of the teams we were facing in our division at that point. They beat us up pretty bad. But that experience helped me down the road, and it's still helping me now. People ask me if I wish that had gone differently. No. That helped shape the way I pitch now, and that helped shape the person that I am."
On Dec. 18, Vogelsong signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Pirates. He has a chance to earn another $3 million in incentives.
And while the 38-year-old has a combined 4.63 ERA in 84 games over the last three seasons, he wants to play as long as he can.
"I feel like the perception might be that people think I'm just coming here to ride out the end of a career. That's not the case. I'm coming here with every expectation of having a great season and continuing to play this game as long as I can. I know that's not handed to you. You have to go out and show people that you can still pitch -- and pitch effectively -- before you get another chance to pitch. I'm very motivated in that aspect. I still want to play this game," Vogelsong said.
As for the rings he earned in 2012 and 2014, Vogelsong never saw those coming when he was pitching on the other side of the globe.
"The days when I was pitching in a Minor League game in Japan, I never thought that would ever happen to me. So I'm very fortunate and blessed that it did. I learned a lot from a lot of different people in my five years in San Francisco," Vogelsong said.
So what made those Giants' teams so special?
"I watched a [Giants] team in 2012 basically will [itself] to a division title and then will ourselves through a postseason run to a championship. You talk about intangibles; that's another thing. What's in your heart? How deep can you dig? The other thing about that team was how it came together. I saw guys playing for the guy next to them, instead of themselves," Vogelsong said.
In 11 major league seasons, Vogelsong has a 58-68 record with a 4.45 ERA and 839 strikeouts in 1,107.2 innings.