All-Star snub keeps Vogelsong hungry

Friday, July 1

SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval’s gain was Ryan Vogelsong’s loss. Madison Bumgarner’s, too. Or Santiago Casilla’s.

The ambitious get-out-the-All-Star-vote campaign launched last week by the Giants’ marketing experts worked beyond belief. Not only did it help Melky Cabrera take his rightful place in the National League’s All-Star starting outfield, but it also enabled Sandoval to ride Cabrera’s coattails into a fan-elected starting spot at third base — a spot that Sandoval entirely did not deserve, given the excellent season sustained by New York’s David Wright. Heck, even first baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford combined for more than 7.5 million votes while finishing second at their respective positions.

With Cabrera, Sandoval and Buster Posey elected to the starting squad and Matt Cain a shoo-in for the pitching staff, it’s likely that no more Giants will be considered once attrition inevitably strikes and replacements are chosen. The All-Star powers that be likely consider San Francisco’s contingent to be large enough already.

Thus, it would be a surprise if Bumgarner, Vogelsong or Casilla is added to the NL squad. Vogelsong, for one, is taking it personally, though he probably shouldn’t. But as long as his perceived snub motivates him, it’s good for him and the Giants.

Asked if being omitted from the All-Star team further entrenches the self-proclaimed chip on Vogelsong’s shoulder that goads him, he said, “Absolutely.” He added that it reaffirms what he told reporters in Anaheim last month after a loss to Angels ace Jered Weaver. “People don’t take me seriously,” said Vogelsong, whose 7-3 record and 2.26 ERA make his skeptics look like idiots.

Vogelsong was named to last year’s All-Star team with a 6-1, 2.17 first half. But, as he pointed out, many observers believed that his presence at the Midsummer Classic was a favor doled out by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, the NL All-Star skipper. “Some of that is probably true,” Vogelsong said. “But some of that was, I was having a pretty good first half, too.”

Vogelsong’s more consistent this year. He has pitched at least six innings in all 15 of his starts, lasting seven  innings or more 12 times. From May 8 to June 15, the Giants won all eight games he started. His personal record during that stretch was 6-0 with a 1.76 ERA.

Vogelsong’s saga remains a compelling one, as he rose to prominence after being traded by the Giants, struggling to hold on with Pittsburgh, enduring three seasons in Japan and spending 2010 in Triple-A with the Phillies and Angels organizations. Asked if he believed that he has proven himself as a legitimate starting pitcher, he replied, “Yes and no. I feel like I still have a long way to go here. There’s a lot of season left and I think I need to do it for a whole ‘nother season to get to that point.”

If for some reason NL manager Tony La Russa feels compelled to add another starting pitcher to the All-Star squad, Vogelsong graciously said that Bumgarner (10-4, 2.85 ERA) should be selected. “If it came down between me and him, I would have wanted Bum to go, to be able to experience one since I did get to go last year.”

Vogelsong added, “I wish we could have both gone.”

Chris Haft

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