San Francisco Giants

Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong adjusting to possible relief role

San Francisco Giants' Ryan Vogelsong works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 9, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
San Francisco Giants' Ryan Vogelsong works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 9, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP

-- Ryan Vogelsong narrowly avoided an uncomfortable situation in the Giants’ Cactus League game against the Dodgers on Monday. Vogelsong, who is preparing this spring for a possible long relief role in 2015, got up in the second inning to warm up to replace Matt Cain in the third. But the first two Giants hitters in the bottom of the second made quick outs, and Vogelsong started "panicking a little bit."

"I wasn’t near close" to being ready, Vogelsong said afterward.

Fortunately, shortstop Matt Duffy lined a two-out single to right field, giving Vogelsong a little more time in the bullpen.

"That saved me," Vogelsong said.

Vogelsong acknowledged he’s still adjusting to some of the finer points of pitching out of the bullpen, where he may start the season after re-signing with the Giants this offseason despite their already having a full five-man rotation. The right-hander has relieved before in the majors, but hasn’t made a regular-season relief appearance since 2011 -- when he had just two in his first season back with the Giants.

"It’s going to be one of those things," Vogelsong said of dealing with a shorter warm-up time. "I’ll figure it out."

Manager Bruce Bochy said he fully believes Vogelsong can handle that adjustment and that the Giants can help with the transition. "We’ll give him time, because he is a little bit different," Bochy said. "I may slow the game down a little bit, to be honest, just to make sure he is ready."

Bochy added that Vogelsong could still factor into the rotation this season. Last season, for example, Yusemiro Petit made 12 starts due to injuries in the rotation. Matt Cain and Tim Hudson are both returning from surgeries, and Tim Lincecum remains something of a question mark despite being marked for the opening day rotation.

"We don’t have anything etched in stone," Bochy said. "We’re getting (Vogelsong) ready and stretched out, for either long (relief) or a starter. But with that said, I’ll talk to him."

Vogelsong said he’s not worrying at this point about his role.

"I haven’t had any conversations with anybody about anything," he said. "I’m just focused on having the best year I can have, no matter what situation it’s in.

"I just know that the way I’m throwing right now, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like that, and I’m pretty excited about it."

* Vogelsong said it was gratifying watching Cain make his spring debut in his first game in eight months, following Cain’s elbow surgery last August to remove bone spurs.

"I’ve been there, coming off surgery and going through the whole rehab process, getting to pitch in a game again after a long time," Vogelsong said. "I was excited for him today. And he handled it like I thought he was going to handle it. He threw the ball great."

You can read about Cain’s outing here. Other positive reviews came from catcher Buster Posey, who said Cain was "very smooth and controlled," and Bochy.

"Good command, good stuff, used all his pitches," Bochy said of Cain. "For the layoff he has had, that was an impressive two innings there for him."

Posey also lauded the outing by Vogelsong in the Giants’ 5-5 tie with the Dodgers, in which Vogelsong threw three innings, struck out four and allowed two runs on a fourth-inning homer by Yasiel Puig.

"He threw the ball well to both sides of the plate, mixed in four pitches," Posey said. "I thought he threw the ball well."

Vogelsong was also pleased with his outing and didn’t express much regret over the pitch to Puig.

"It was a good pitch, good swing," Vogelsong said. "Pretty good curveball. Can’t be upset about that. Maybe not the right pitch in that situation, but it was a good pitch."

* Only a few regulars played Monday for the Giants, meaning Adam Duvall got a start at third base, where he made arguably the best defensive play of the game in the third. Juan Uribe yanked a grounder down the line, Duvall snagged it on a backhand dive and made a strong throw across the diamond for the out.

"That was a great play he made," Bochy said.

Duvall has long intrigued the Giants with his bat -- he hit .298 with 27 homers last season in Triple-A Fresno -- but there’s a question of where he fits defensively. Duvall’s played mostly third base in the minors, and Bochy said that right now the Giants are having him focus on the corner infield spots.

"With Adam, it’s just getting that confidence you hear me say so many times, that sense of belonging," Bochy said. "He’s got a great arm, got good hands, and I know (bench coach Ron Wotus is) working hard with him at third base. We’ll do the same at first. You have a bat like this, it’s intriguing, so we’ll work him hard at both spots."

* Gregor Blanco started Monday in left field but came out after being hit by a Brandon League pitch on the inside of his left knee in the fifth inning. Bochy said the move was precautionary and Blanco said afterward he felt OK.

In other health news, Bochy said infielder Joaquin Arias is dealing with a sore arm and likely won’t be in the field for a day or two. Outfielder Juan Perez was scratched from Monday’s lineup with lower back tightness.

* While not much value is placed on box scores right now, Bochy hasn’t entirely ignored some lopsided defeats the Giants have suffered recently. Bochy said players have been working hard and may be a little tired, so he’s closing the batting cage Tuesday morning and pushing back the report time. The Giants travel to Peoria tomorrow to play the San Diego Padres at 1:05 p.m.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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