We kept waiting and waiting for some news on Ryan Vogelsong. I think I’ve mentioned it in every blog I’ve written since the end of the season. We knew he wasn’t going to be dealt with early in the off season because the Giants had other, bigger things on their mind – like replacing the huge holes that were left at third base and left field when Pablo and Michael left. And he knew this. So he waited. And waited. Once Peavy was signed, it wasn’t looking good for my boy. Where would he fit into the roster? Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean kept saying that Timmy was the fifth starter, so any possible opening for Ryan seemed to have disappeared. It was starting to look pretty unlikely that he would return to the team he loved so much. Even beat writer Chris Haft of MLB.com who follows the Giants wrote a tribute column to Ryan, assuming he wouldn’t be coming back (you can read it here – great summary of Ryan’s contributions to the team). Haft writes, “Vogelsong, a free agent, isn’t yet officially an ex-Giant. But the two-year contract that Jake Peavy received gave the Giants a full complement of starting pitchers and likely will squeeze out Vogelsong — who, according to those who know him closely, maintained hopes of spending the rest of his career with the club.” Maintained. Past tense. Confirmation that it wasn’t looking good. Then the biggest blow of all came – earlier this week, there were reports that the Astros were in “serious discussions” with Vogelsong. Serious. Then he went to Houston. Then he had a physical for them. Even Brian Sabean said Ryan was close to signing with another team. Sigh.
On my way home from work on Wednesday, I caught the end of a story on KNBR that mentioned Ryan and the Astros, and assumed that the deal was done. I seriously was in mourning. I loved that guy. The guy who ate chicken enchiladas the night before his starts. The guy who wouldn’t talk to reporters on his start days, and not even the day before his starts. The guy who talked out of the side of his mouth with a Philly accent. The guy who called me “the rose between the thorns” when I got my picture taken between him and Bill Laskey. The guy who wore the bracelet I gave him at FanFest for the entire day. The guy who I liked so much that I bought his T-shirt. All past tense. The guy who would no longer be one of my boys.
On Wednesday night, I was planning to write my own tribute to Ryan Vogelsong. I had even started writing it in my head on the car ride home from work. But then something interesting happened. When I got home, there was no mention of the move on Facebook. How could it not be on Facebook?? I did a search, and there was no information confirming that the deal had been sealed. I figured I would probably hear something the next day. But it didn’t happen. In fact, Thursday morning on KNBR, the story had changed, and now THE GIANTS were in “serious discussions” with Ryan. WHAT????? Could it be true? What had happened in Houston? Then Friday morning, it was confirmed. RYAN VOGELSONG IS STILL ONE OF MY BOYS! THE SHIRT’S STILL GOOD!! He signed a 1 year, $4 million deal (with performance incentives) three days after we almost lost him.
So why did he not sign with the Astros? According to Fox Sports, he said “Some things happened I just wasn’t comfortable with. Negotiations kind of broke down after that. Time to move on.” To us. In an interview with KNBR this afternoon, he mentioned the fact that home games with 15 – 20 thousand fans would be way different than home games with 40 thousand fans. Of course, you won’t get the real story because he’s being a good boy and doesn’t want to tarnish the Astros, but the bottom line is he wanted to come back to the Giants. And I’m pretty sure the fact that the Astros stink played a role in his decision. He mentioned he thought he had been pushed back to SF by “divine intervention,” possibly alluding to the fact that deals didn’t go the way he hoped so that he would end up back with us. He wouldn’t give details, but he said it was really kind of creepy and he would share the details with Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto of KNBR in another 10 years. OK. Now I’m dying to know what happened. Maybe I’ll ask him at FanFest. CAUSE HE’LL BE THERE!!! WOOOHOOOOO!!
A couple of other awesome things about this guy: He also mentioned that he knows going in that he will start out in the bullpen, and he’s fine with that. He is willing to do whatever the Giants need him to do, whether he is the long reliever, fill-in starter, even closer – whatever. You gotta love that. Then when reading the tribute from Chris Haft, I learned something about my boy that raised him to another level in my adoration. Apparently he signed with the Giants in 2011 even though he had a higher money offer from the Dodgers. That’s a true Giant right there. I am so thoroughly relieved that he’s back, not just cause he’s my boy, but face it – we need more starting pitching potential. We’ve got two guys coming off of injuries in Cain and Hudson, and who knows what Timmy will be like this season. We need someone to fill in should one of those guys go down. And I know Petit is amazing and could fill in, but I think he’s more amazing as a long reliever, so now we can keep him in that role. It’s goodness all around! Now I can check the last worry off my list this offseason – starting pitching. WHEW!
In other news, I found out what number Nori Aoki hopes to be wearing – 23. That number is currently worn by Giants bench coach Ron Wotus. In an interview, Aoki says he knows Wotus likes golf, so maybe he’ll buy him some golf clubs to persuade him to give it up – or a Rolex. I love this guy! And with the Vogelsong signing, I realized something. Vogey will actually be able to communicate with Aoki as he played in Japan for three years and picked up the language. I bet that will be comforting for his new teammate. Can’t wait to see coverage of them chatting it up in the clubhouse.
Speaking of the clubhouse, it’s apparently under construction. Hunter Pence posted to Instagram a picture of himself in the torn down clubhouse. Check it out. Not sure why they had to rebuild it. Maybe it was due to champagne damage.
I also heard that Marco Scutaro was designated for assignment to make room for Nori Aoki. He’s still in rehab, so it doesn’t mean he won’t be back with the team. But it sure isn’t looking good for him to get out on that field again. I will always cherish my umbrella that has him embracing the rain on it, though. Good luck with the rehab, Marco. You never know.
Just for fun, I decided to look into what’s going on in my boy Eli Whiteside’s life. I was pleased to find out that he is indeed still getting paid to play baseball. He was signed to a minor league contract by the Braves in November of 2014. And he actually had playing time with the Cubs last season. He had 26 plate appearances in 8 games and batted .120. Of course, they used him for his catching abilities, not so much for his batting. He was even involved in an interesting double play last season with the Cubs. Check out this amazing play here. Bases were loaded, and the hitter grounded the ball just barely in front of home plate. Whiteside quickly grabbed the ball, tagged home to force out the guy coming in from third, then threw it to first base in time to get the batter out. Nice job, Dude! Glad to hear you’re still in the game, Eli. Hope all is well with you and your family.
T-minus 15 days until FanFest. And Ginny has confirmed that she’s going with me. Which means we’ll probably get there at about 6 am! Glad I have someone as crazy as I am to go with! Hoping to meet up with Leslie as well. And my sis and niece might also go this year. So excited! Ready for baseball to start NOW!! Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!