Ryan Vogelsong: “I definitely have some questions whether the WBC hurt me”

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Ryan Vogelsong has struggled all season with injuries and poor performances, posting a 5.82 ERA in 16 starts for the Giants, and yesterday the 35-year-old right-hander pointed to his participation in the World Baseball Classic as a possible explanation.

While noting that breaking his finger swinging at a pitch on May 20 is what derailed his season the most, Vogelsong told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com:

The WBC … it’s a valid question. I’m just not sure. The only way we’ll have an answer is to have an offseason of rest and come back next year. I plan on coming back strong and having a great year, and then we can blame this on the WBC if you want.

I definitely have some questions whether the WBC hurt me or no. But I doubt myself more for swinging at that pitch, because that’s something I could have controlled. It’s just been hard for me to explain to you what it’s like when you’re rehabbing in the middle of a season. It’s not easy to do.

It’s also worth noting that Vogelsong is 35 years old, which is an age at which pitchers often decline rapidly, and prior to 2011 he’d been a journeyman without much big-league success. So maybe it was the WBC, maybe it was the broken finger, maybe it was aging, and maybe it was some combination of everything.

San Francisco has a $6.5 million team option on Vogelsong for next season and while his performance certainly hasn’t been worth that money this year Baggarly writes that he’s “expected to return.”

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.