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Vogelsong assists during instructional league

Former Giants pitcher hopes to become coach or instructor
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're a Giants fan, you probably know at least something about Ryan Vogelsong's long baseball journey.

If you're a Giants pitching prospect, you likely know little to nothing about Vogelsong's stirring saga.

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're a Giants fan, you probably know at least something about Ryan Vogelsong's long baseball journey.

If you're a Giants pitching prospect, you likely know little to nothing about Vogelsong's stirring saga.

So when Vogelsong joined the Giants' contingent of young pitchers in late September to offer tutelage at their instructional league camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., the first thing he did was talk about himself. Because his story was a tale that surely resonated for most of the about 40 aspiring pitchers.

"I feel like my experience needs to be passed along," said Vogelsong, who retired as a Giant in September. "That's one of the things that I told some of the guys there -- it's very few and far between when you have a guy like Timmy [Lincecum] or Bum [Madison Bumgarner], who's a first-round pick and you blow through the Minor Leagues and then everything is great once you get to the big leagues. It doesn't always go like that.

"You have to be ready to battle and scrap and persevere, and just because the road isn't smoother than most doesn't mean you can't get to where you want to be at the end of the day."

Vogelsong, who ranks among one of the most popular Giants players in recent years, is weighing the possibility of becoming a part-time coach or instructor -- something, he said, that he hasn't discussed yet with general manager Bobby Evans.

Double-A Richmond pitching coach Steve Kline, who also served as the instructional camp's pitching coordinator, scheduled the meeting between Vogelsong and the pitchers. Kline knew that Vogelsong would command attention with history they needed to hear -- the 2001 trade that sent him from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, his challenging 2004 campaign for the Pirates (6-13, 6.50 ERA), his three years in Japan and being released by Philadelphia in the middle of the 2010 season, which he spent between the Phillies' and Angels' Triple-A affiliates.

"They see you, and they see a guy who was an All-Star and won two World Series championships," Kline explained to Vogelsong, who spoke for about 20 minutes.

Despite Vogelsong's itinerant baseball life, he still exceeded 10 years of Major League service time -- another lesson for the young pitchers to absorb.

"I told them, 'Guys, I wasn't even that good,'" said Vogelsong, who was 61-75 with a 4.48 ERA in 289 career big league appearances (179 starts). "I was very, very average. But I worked my butt off, stayed out of trouble and I never gave up. And I kept playing my [butt] off until the end."

Vogelsong did more than deliver lectures to the young pitchers. He watched them throw, provided mechanical tips and shared his wisdom. His talk, though, turned out to be a useful icebreaker.

"I think it makes them more apt to come ask you questions one-on-one," Vogelsong said.

Occasionally, Vogelsong noticed a pitcher execute something that he passed along a day earlier.

"That was more cool for me than when I did it for myself," Vogelsong said. "You can see the drive. You can see their hunger to be good."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Francisco Giants, Ryan Vogelsong