BRADENTON, Fla. – Ryan Vogelsong threw 80 pitches in five innings of work on Sunday in a minor league game. In the outing he pitched well, allowing just a home run to Matt Joyce in first inning as the only damage.
“[The start] felt great,” Vogelsong said. “I was commanding the ball and commanding all of my pitches. I am really happy with [the start].”
Along with Joyce, Vogelsong was working against Sean Rodriguez and Jung Ho Kong, while throwing to Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. Mark Melancon and Tony Watson were throwing for the other side, getting some work in after the rain out on Saturday. They were expected to get that work in the lost game the day before.
As for Vogelsong, he was hitting in the high 80s to low 90s with the fastball, showing good command and movement with the pitch today. He also had a solid curveball. He was pleased with the opportunity to work on some things with the Minor League game atmosphere.
“You get to pick to second a little bit,” Vogelsong said. “Work on your slide step, stuff like that. It’s good. It is a little less spotlighty too. You can come out here and do something things that you normally wouldn’t and if you give up a home run, you don’t have to explain it. You can have some guys on base and get to work on some stuff.”
Vogelsong didn’t take his normal approach with Joyce, throwing a pitch that he doesn’t usually throw to lefties during the season, but a pitch that he needed to work on in camp. The result was a big home run for Joyce, and a pitch that Vogelsong might find more effective against right-handers this year with the same action.
“During the season in Pittsburgh, I am not throwing a lefty a 3-2 cutter with a big left field,” Vogelsong said. “In that situation, I want to work on it, so I throw it, and he hits if over the fence. You go, ‘well, it’s ok, it did what I wanted it to do.’ That is not what I am going to do during the season nine times out of ten.”
Vogelsong also said that his arm felt great and there were no injury issues outside of the normal grind. That was displayed well at the end of the outing when he ended by inducing a double play and picking up back-to-back strikeouts to cap it.
“Obviously, I do a lot during the offseason to get ready with arm maintenance and throwing and things like that,” Vogelsong said. “You get to a point in Spring Training where you start to feel the grind and you wait to come out the other side. That was me…my arm feels great.”
**Mark Melancon had the cutter working in the high 80s to low 90s, with a strong curveball in the low 70s range. He got two ground outs against Kang and Cervelli, then picked up a strikeout against Joyce.
**Tony Watson was sharp with his fastball in the low 90s, and had a strong changeup. While he allowed a hard hit double to Rodriguez in the left-center field gap, Watson escaped with a clean inning.
**Matt Joyce on getting some work in against Watson: “I love getting in there against those guys. He is tough. He’s really tough, especially on lefties. He likes to run the two-seam in, and he’s got a good finisher with the slider. So it’s good for me to see those, because you just learn what pitches you have to take, and what pitches you’re looking for.”
**The double was the only hit in the contest for Rodriguez. Kang made some solid contact on a line out to left, but also picked up a pair of strikeouts and went hitless. Cervelli went 0-for-2 against Melancon and Watson. Joyce picked up a bloop single to left and just missed a double down the line on a ball that hooked foul to go with the home run.
**John Kuchno came on to pitch an inning after Melancon and Watson. He didn’t have his best stuff today, struggling with his command. Kuchno is typically a heavy ground ball pitcher, but didn’t have many on the ground today, and wasn’t working often around the strike zone, especially not for a pitch-to-contact guy.