SURPRISE (AP) — San Francisco right-hander Ryan Vogelsong is enjoying every moment of his attempt to make it back to the major leagues for the first time in five years.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Vogelsong said after throwing four strong innings in the Giants’ 11-8 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday. “The days I’m pitching I’m super excited. I can’t wait. Even between innings I can’t wait to get back on the mound.”
Vogelsong last appeared in a regular-season game when he made 20 appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006. He then signed a one-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League, re-upped for a second year and played a third season with the Orix Buffaloes.
The 33-year-old Vogelsong returned to the states last season, trying and failing to earn a job with the Philadelphia Phillies. He agreed to a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels in July and joined the Giants in January.
Vogelsong, a non-roster invitee to San Francisco’s camp, said he’s a different pitcher than the one who went 10-22 with a 5.86 ERA in his first 120 major league appearances over six seasons.
“It’s fun to feel the competition between me and the hitters,” Vogelsong said. “Before, it wasn’t a competition. It was just the hitters. Now I’m enjoying getting into the chess match with them.”
Vogelsong pointed to Sunday’s outing as a sign of his maturity. The Rangers loaded the bases with three infield singles into the third inning, including a bunt from Julio Borbon that danced along the third-base line before rolling to a stop a few feet in front of the bag. But Vogelsong managed to limit the damage to one run.
“In the past when that happened I would have been trying to throw the ball harder, to make it move, to try and get them to pop it up,” Vogelsong said. “I’m able to slow the game down better now. I just try to throw strikes, pound the strike zone, and let the ball do what it’s going to do.”
Vogelsong, trying to win a spot as a long reliever, allowed two runs and four hits. He threw 45 of his 67 pitches for strikes.
Rangers starter Tommy Hunter pitched 3 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs—four earned—and nine hits.
“He got to two outs a couple of times, two strikes, and just couldn’t put them away,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s got to work on that third out. We definitely need to see a better job of that going forward.”
Hunter, the Rangers’ likely third or fourth starter, has surrendered 11 runs, eight earned, and 14 hits in 6 2-3 innings over his last two starts, both against the World Series champion Giants.
“This spring stinks,” Hunter said.
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 3 with an RBI triple. He also scored twice and swiped a base.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was 2 for 4 with a triple and five RBIs, and David Murphy homered.
NOTES: The game was played in front of a stadium-record crowd of 12,014. … Rangers RHP Brandon Webb threw a 61-pitch session of live batting practice. Next up for Webb is another session of batting practice Wednesday and a possible appearance in a simulated game. … Giants CF Andres Torres had a pair of hits and scored a run. … Giants RF Nate Schierholtz had a productive day. He cut down Andrus at third in the fifth inning on a perfect throw after Josh Hamilton singled, then homered in the sixth against Rangers LHP Arthur Rhodes. … 3B Adrian Beltre is expected to make his Texas debut on Monday.
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