Pirates notebook: Pitcher Vogelsong has no plans to retire
ST. LOUIS — Although he has scuffled over the past 4 1⁄2 weeks, Ryan Vogelsong has no plans to retire after this season.
“I’m playing next year,” Vogelsong, 39, said on Friday. “I don’t know where. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. But my plan is to go to spring training with someone with the intent of playing 162-plus games in 2017.”
The right-hander will start the Pirates’ season finale on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’m planning on having a good drive home (to Atlanta) on Monday because I pitched really good on Sunday,” Vogelsong said.
Manager Clint Hurdle bypassed up-and-comers such as Trevor Williams and Drew Hutchison in favor of Vogelsong, a 12-year veteran.
“Right now, all these games mean something,” Hurdle said. “Williams provides us for better opportunity out of the bullpen. And Ryan’s buy-in is going to be bigger than anybody else’s in that clubhouse to pitch a good game on Sunday.”
Vogelsong sat out two months after a wayward fastball smashed bones in his face, which required surgery. He was solid in his first five games after coming off the disabled list. Over his past six starts, however, Vogelsong is 0-4 with a 8.78 ERA.
“When I look back at this season, I’m going to remember it most for getting hit in the face,” Vogelsong said. “Just when you think you’re at a point in your career when you’ve been tested as much as you can be, something else happens. That was a major test for me. It let me know that I’m a lot tougher than I thought I was.”
Vogelsong worked as a reliever part of last season with the San Francisco Giants and began this season in the Pirates’ bullpen.
If he pitches in 2017, Vogelsong wants to work exclusively as a starter.
“I think in this stage of my career, it’s role-dependent,” Vogelsong. “I’ve never been a guy who’s been money driven. I love the game, I love the competition. I think I learned some things about myself this season, and it’s easier for me to get ready to perform at this level having the time and preparation between starts.”
Vogelsong also plans to limit his options to the 30 major league teams.
“There will be no more Japan trips,” said Vogelsong, who pitched for Hanshin and Orix in the Japan Pacific League from 2007 to 2009.
Marte named team MVP
The Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named Starling Marte the winner of the Clemente Award, in effect the team MVP.
Marte got 10 out of 11 first-place votes and snapped Andrew McCutchen’s four-year run as the winner. Marte batted .311 with an .848 OPS and led the team with 47 stolen bases.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon won the Steve Blass Award, which is given to the Pirates’ top pitcher. The runner-up was Ivan Nova, who joined the team on Aug. 1.
Reliever Jared Hughes won the Chuck Tanner Award, which is given to the team’s most media- and fan-friendly player.
A final word
Hurdle completed exit interviews with 39 players, including those on the disabled list, who were with the team at season’s end.
“We are one of the few (teams) that do it,” Hurdle said.
Hurdle met privately with each player for a minimum of 20 minutes. General manager Neal Huntington, position coaches and translators also sat in on many of the talks.
“It’s never not good,” Hurdle said, “because you pour into people and you develop trust. It’s very refreshing every year to hear guys who’ve never done it before walk away and go, ‘Wow!’ ”
Hurdle used the process when he managed the Colorado Rockies.
“It didn’t have a lot of steam,” Hurdle said. “It would start out good, then it became pretty challenging.”
Hurdle has gotten better results with the Pirates. This is the sixth year Hurdle and Huntington have conducted entrance (during spring training) and exit interviews.
Some of the chats are more in-depth than others. On Wednesday, catcher Francisco Cervelli’s turned into an hour-long gabfest.
“The passion that guy has,” Hurdle said, smiling. “You cannot have passion and not have energy. He’s got both. He had a lot of thoughts to share about this season, both personally and about the club. He just let ‘em pour out.”