Vogelsong joins three repeat Giants All-Stars
Lincecum, Cain and Wilson also headed to Midsummer Classic
DETROIT -- Last July was a lot different for Ryan Vogelsong than this one will be.A year ago, his career was stuck in neutral. Now, he'll figuratively speed across the desert to Phoenix for the All-Star Game. Vogelsong joined teammates Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Brian Wilson on the National League All-Star squad announced Sunday. Vogelsong, Lincecum and Cain were added to the team by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will pilot the NL squad. Players, managers and coaches elected Wilson to his spot.
"It's obviously a dream for everyone who plays this game to make an All-Star team," Vogelsong said Sunday after allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits in 6 2/3 innings and receiving no decision as the Giants lost to Detroit, 6-3. "Before, in my career, that's never, ever been an opportunity or even a thought. Even when [reporters] were asking me about it before was pretty gratifying. But to have it happen is dreamlike, just like everything that's happened to me this season so far."This is the same Vogelsong who began last season pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate but was released July 16 after posting a 2-5 record with a 4.91 ERA in 25 aippearances. "I was sitting at home wondering if I would ever get a chance to play again," Vogelsong said. "To be an All-Star now is really special." This happens to be a special group of Giants overall. The club placed four pitchers on the All-Star team for the first time since the game's inception in 1933. Also, they've never had three All-Star starting pitchers. They've put two starters on the team only three times since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958: Johnny Antonelli and Sam Jones in 1959, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry in 1966 and Lincecum and Cain in 2009. "It'll definitely be fun," Cain said. "It'll be fun to goof off with those guys, like we regularly do during the games or whatever. It'll be really cool to have three other pitchers there." This marks the first year that San Francisco has had four All-Stars since 1993, when left fielder Barry Bonds, second baseman Robby Thompson and right-handers Rod Beck and John Burkett made the team. Bochy was mostly satisfied with his club's representation. "I'd like to have a position player on there, to be honest," Bochy said. "If [third baseman] Pablo [Sandoval] doesn't get hurt, he'd be on the team, too." The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage. Everybody loves a rags-to-riches story, which quickly has made Vogelsong a favorite among the Giants. Originally selected by San Francisco in the fifth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, Vogelsong was traded to Pittsburgh in the Jason Schmidt deal in 2001, then migrated to two different teams in Japan between 2007-09. After languishing in Triple-A last year, the Giants signed Vogelsong, who pitched impressively in Spring Training. There was no room in the starting rotation when the season began, but he joined the rotation after Barry Zito sprained his right foot in mid-April. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 33-year-old Vogelsong is only the second player to be out of the Major Leagues for four full seasons and be selected to the All-Star team in his first season back. The other was Boston Red Sox left-hander Mickey Harris, who returned from World War II to make the 1946 AL All-Star squad. "Vogey going is just awesome," Wilson said. "We knew what kind of talent he had during Spring Training and he was well-deserving of being part of this team. When he got called up, we knew what he was capable of doing, but we didn't know to the extent of what he would give the Giants. He's been nails thus far. It's an awesome journey he's had, storybook I believe." Vogelsong is 6-1 with a 2.13 ERA. The latter would rank second in the NL if he had accumulated enough innings to qualify for the league leaders. He's just two-thirds of an inning short. Vogelsong didn't make his first start for the Giants until April 28, explaining his innings shortfall. The right-hander has remained consistent, allowing two runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts between May 8 and June 22. "First of all, he's deserving. Why not?" Bochy said, defending his selection of Vogelsong. "I know he's made 12 starts, but he's seven innings away from qualifying for second in the league in ERA [before Sunday's start]. He's not only been a shot in the arm for us, he's saved us. And No. 2, he's a great story, with the perseverance he's shown in this game. ... Sure, there were other candidates. But he's deserving." Bochy called Vogelsong into his office Saturday to give him the good news. "When I told him, it was an emotional time," said Bochy. "I said I'd had some special moments in this game, and this is one of them, to tell him he's an All-Star." Vogelsong wanted to tell the world. He confided in his wife, Nicole, and his parents, but swore all of them to secrecy. "With Facebook and Twitter, stuff gets out pretty quick," Vogelsong said. "But my parents probably don't even know what Facebook is. Or Twitter. So I was pretty safe with them." While Vogelsong is new to the Midsummer Classic, the others are veterans. Lincecum earned his fourth All-Star selection in a row. Cain received the honor for the second time, along with his aforementioned 2009 distinction. Wilson made the team for the third time in four years. Lincecum, who's 6-6 with a 3.04 ERA, endured a rough June (1-2, 4.84 ERA in six starts) but remains one of the league's most formidable power pitchers. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner entered Sunday ranked third in the league with 122 strikeouts, ninth with an opponents' batting average of .225 and 10th in innings with 112 1/3. "It's standard," Wilson said of Lincecum's All-Star recognition. The 27-year-old right-hander started the 2009 All-Star Game at St. Louis, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits. Lincecum did not appear in the 2008 and 2010 games, though he was on both squads. Unlike Lincecum, Cain (7-4, 3.02 ERA) enjoyed a strong June, posting a 4-0 mark with a 1.65 ERA in six starts. Opponents hit just .179 off Cain in June, lowering his overall figure to .223 -- the eighth-best in the NL entering Sunday. However, the 26-year-old Cain likely won't appear in the All-Star Game itself. He's scheduled to start next Sunday against the New York Mets, and a new rule dictates that pitchers who start the first-half finale cannot appear in the All-Star Game -- the better to preserve their arms. Cain also didn't appear in 2009. But he's still excited to be among the game's elite. "You can't really do anything about how the rotation is set," he said. "You get the opportunity to go, be an All-Star and go to the game." Assuming Cain still pitches Sunday, he'll be replaced by a pitcher Bochy will select. Wilson entered Sunday with 24 saves, tied with four others for the Major League lead. Despite blowing back-to-back save opportunities for only the second time in his career Thursday and Friday, the 29-year-old Wilson has squandered just four of 28 opportunities while limiting opponents to a .228 average. The right-hander was perfect in his previous All-Star appearances, retiring both batters he faced in 2008 at Yankee Stadium and working the eighth inning last year at Anaheim. "I would like to think I have a really good shot at throwing the back end," Wilson said when asked about his chances of pitching the ninth inning if the NL has a lead to preserve. "Whatever it may be, whether I pitch or not, it's still a great honor to represent the Giants in a game that actually does have meaning. Very advantageous for us to have homefield advantage come playoff time." Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 1 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter. Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. Example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply. On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.