The Giants made it clear early this offseason they had priorities ahead of re-signing right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. And Vogelsong recently progressed far enough in contract talks with the Houston Astros that he flew to Houston, took a physical and met with members of the Astros’ staff.
Yet today , the Giants announced they had re-signed Vogelsong to a one-year, $4 million deal for 2015, returning the 37-year-old to the team that drafted him and has been his home for the past four seasons.
“Ultimately when a decision came down, everything kept leading me back to San Francisco,” Vogelsong said on a conference call today. “Honestly, I think it’s just where I’m supposed to be.”
So much so, apparently, that Vogelsong opted for a situation in which he is not guaranteed a spot in the rotation. The Giants already have brought back Jake Peavy to round out a rotation that includes Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, whom the team has said will begin 2015 as a starter.
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But there are plenty of question marks. Cain (elbow, ankle) and Hudson (ankle) are returning from surgery, and Hudson is expected to miss the start of spring training. Lincecum was removed from the rotation at the end of last season. And while Bumgarner has said he feels no ill effects from his workload in 2014, the left-hander is coming off a season in which he threw 270 innings.
As a result, the Giants felt they needed more rotation depth – in large part because they do not want to have to use Yusmeiro Petit, who was used in starting and relief roles in 2014 before shining as a long reliever in the playoffs, as a sixth starter.
“The greater desire was to keep Petit really in the bullpen, where we think he can excel as a super-reliever,” general manager Brian Sabean said. “That’s his niche. We didn’t want to be in a position to have to bounce him back and forth. As such, while on paper we have seven (starters) with the addition of Vogey, we’re looking at it as six.”
Sabean reaffirmed the decision to give Lincecum another shot at the rotation but did not rule out the possibility Vogelsong could compete for a starting job in spring training.
“I don’t know how the spring’s going to go, because we do have some question marks possibly surrounding our other starters,” Sabean said. “That will all get settled. That’s (manager Bruce Bochy) more so, or the pitching coach’s expertise, to put us in position to have everybody ready for Opening Day and then make a choice.”
Vogelsong said he’s aware the Giants have five other starters. “I know what I signed up for,” he said, adding he would be open to starting or relieving.
“In the past, I’ve told you guys that I take the ball when they tell me to take it and I give it back when they take it from me,” he said. “That’s not going to change no matter what role I’m in.”
Last season, Vogelsong made a career-high 32 starts, though his numbers at times told a different story from how he pitched. He was 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA and made four postseason appearances without a decision. After the Giants won the World Series, Vogelsong made it clear he wanted to return to San Francisco, and he said he would be patient while the team addressed other offseason needs.
This week, though, Vogelsong reportedly came close to signing with the Astros. He said he flew to Houston for a physical and had “great meetings” with team personnel, but that as the process continued, he “wasn’t comfortable.”
“Some things happened that I was just uncomfortable with,” he said. “Negotiations kind of broke down after that. And after that happened, it was time to move on.”
Vogelsong and the Giants had stayed in contact over the winter. Vogelsong often has said he gets a charge out of pitching in front of the fans at AT&T Park, and he said today that his wife, Nicole, was “chirping in my ear every two seconds about re-signing with the Giants.”
“Sometimes you just have weird inclinations about things,” Vogelsong said. “As soon as I re-engaged with the Giants, it was like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that was where I was supposed to be. And it kind of hit the ground running from there. Like I said, it’s just kind of weird how things work themselves out.”
A’s – Closer Sean Doolittle is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season because of a slight tear to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder along with considerable inflammation and irritation in the area.
Doolittle, 28, had a platelet-rich plasma injection Jan. 16 in an attempt to decrease the inflammation and irritation before he begins rehabilitation under the direction of athletic trainer Nick Paparesta, Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said Friday. There is no timetable for Doolittle’s return, though doctors believe the left-hander will recover without needing surgery.
▪ Infielder Eric Sogard has agreed to a one-year, $1,075,000 contract with the A’s that avoids salary arbitration.
Sogard, who earned $510,000 last year, had asked for $1,425,000 and Oakland had offered $900,000. He batted .223 with a home run and 22 RBIs in 117 games last season.