With Ryan Vogelsong sidelined for the foreseeable future, the San Francisco Giants are facing more change and challenges for their struggling starting rotation.
The Giants placed Vogelsong on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, a day after he broke his hand on a swing, and prepared to be without their right-hander for up to two months after he underwent surgery Tuesday.
Athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said the operation went well.
Vogelsong had five pins inserted in his hand during the procedure at Stanford. The expected recovery time is 6-8 weeks until Vogelsong is pitching again, but he likely would need a rehab assignment before re-joining the Giants.
”I’ll be back, no question about that,” said Vogelsong, who waited to greet his teammates after Monday’s win, his right hand wrapped. ”It stinks. It stinks because it had been so rough, to go out there and feel like my old self again.”
X-rays revealed he broke two bones in his right pinkie area and also a dislocated knuckle that couldn’t be immediately popped back into place by the medical staff, Vogelsong said. He was hurt on a fifth-inning swing when he chased an inside fastball from Craig Stammen during an 8-0 victory against the Washington Nationals.
The injury came as Vogelsong was putting up his best outing of the year and felt like his former dominant self. He had a 6-0 lead at the time of his injury, and had pitched five scoreless innings for his first victory since April 11, snapping a six-start winless stretch.
Considering all of Vogelsong’s comebacks in a journeyman career that has taken him to Japan and back to the big leagues, nobody doubts the 2011 All-Star will bounce back again — in plenty of time to get back on the mound before 2013 is done.
Vogelsong visited AT&T Park on Tuesday afternoon and met with manager Bruce Bochy.
”He was in a pretty good frame of mind. I think he was glad to get the surgery over with and hopefully get this clock moving on getting back on the mound,” Bochy said before the middle game against Washington. ”He wasn’t here very long. He was pretty tired.”
The 35-year-old Vogelsong, who received an $8.3 million, two-year contract in January 2012, said he hopes the fact that he injured his pinkie could allow him to return more quickly.
”If it’s going to be one, that’s the one to do,” he said. ”It doesn’t do much on the baseball, it just goes along for the ride.”
Vogelsong won 14 games last season — three during the franchise’s run to a second World Series championship in three years — and was a 13-game winner in his comeback year in 2011. Last fall, he won Game 3 of the World Series at Detroit’s Comerica Park as the Giants went on to sweep the Tigers in four games.
But Vogelsong had a slow start this year, and he’s not alone. The Giants’ typically steady starters — Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Tuesday night’s pitcher, Matt Cain — began the day with a 4.78 ERA.
Right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla also went on the disabled list Tuesday because his troublesome right knee still isn’t fully healed despite the use of two different braces.
”Casilla’s just not 100 percent,” assistant general manager Bobby Evans said.
In fact, he will see a specialist Wednesday and surgery is a possibility.
”He was in some pain there,” Bochy said. ”What happens is you start throwing with all arm and hurt yourself more.”
Infielder-outfielder Brett Pill and right-hander Sandy Rosario were recalled from Triple-A Fresno to help fill the voids for the reigning World Series champions.
The Giants were still working to figure out how to cover Vogelsong’s spot in the rotation, though the club has some time because San Francisco doesn’t need a fifth starter until next Tuesday’s Bay Bridge interleague matchup against the Oakland Athletics.
While Bochy likes having versatile right-hander Chad Gaudin as a long reliever out of the bullpen, he has starting experience – 75 starts in 11 major league seasons – and could fill in, while lefty Mike Kickham also is ”in the mix” for consideration, Bochy said Tuesday.
Kickham is 2-4 with a 4.72 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 19 walks in nine starts for Fresno. An 11-game winner last season for Double-A Richmond, the 24-year-old Kickham was a sixth-round draft pick by the Giants in the 2010 amateur draft out of Missouri State.
Finding a fill-in from outside the organization could be an option, too. Bochy, general manager Brian Sabean and Evans are working through the possibilities.
”I wouldn’t rule out anything,” Bochy said. ”Brian’s always looking at things. Right now, we’re looking at it internally. That’s all we’re talking about it.”