SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Pablo Sandoval gave the San Francisco Giants something to smile about with a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to defeat Kansas City 4-2 on Monday.
Sandoval had three hits, including a double, and scored twice.
But what occurred in the first 2 2/3 innings was even more important for the Giants.
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Ryan Vogelsong, expected to be a key part of the rotation, made his first Cactus League start after twisting his back at the start of the spring.
Vogelsong, a right-hander who was 13-7 in 30 games (28 starts) in 2011, gave up a run and two hits and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings. He threw 39 pitches, one short of the team’s goal.
“It wasn’t bad in the first inning (when the run scored), but it was definitely better in the second and third,” Vogelsong said. “It was good that I got to sit down, get back up, sit down, get back up, sit down, get back up for three innings.”
He said he hasn’t been worried about his back this spring.
“I was confident that I would be OK,” he said. “You guys (reporters) were more worried about it than anyone else. It has been a non-issue.
“I had Tommy John surgery (in 2001), so I have been through the rehab process before.
“I haven’t thought about it (back) at all. I just try to pitch. I don’t hear the crowd, I don’t hear the music, I just focus on hitting the (catcher’s) glove as much as I can.”
He also was pleased that he was able to throw out of the stretch, and even fielded a bunt.
The Giants might not be able to get Vogelsong into the rotation to start the regular season. With a little more than a week to go before opening day, it is likely he will start on the disabled list until he is able to log more innings.
The team has some concerns about young right-hander Eric Surkamp, one of their top prospects. He has been experiencing soreness in his elbow and had an MRI earlier Monday. He had pitched in five games (three starts) with a 3-1 spring record.
Closer Brian Wilson, who had been out since March 17 because of arm soreness, pitched a scoreless fifth.
Until Vogelsong and Surkamp are healthy, the rotation likely will be right-handers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito and perhaps right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who will start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Kansas City’s rotation is expected to be bolstered by right-hander Luis Mendoza. He has not been officially selected by manager Ned Yost. However his efforts this spring, including the one on Monday, could make Yost’s decision easier.
Mendoza gave up three hits in five innings, walked two and struck out four. His ERA is 0.54 and his opponents are hitting .180.
After being acquired from Texas in 2010, Mendoza was the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Year with the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, Neb., and the PCL’s postseason MVP.
“I’m just doing my job. They (management) have the decision,” Mendoza said. “I have felt great all spring long. I am making my way, pitching with a purpose, trusting my pitches.”
NOTES: Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez had a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. He had surgery on it late last season, and is not expected to be ready for opening day. … The Giants released pitcher Ramon Ortiz and reassigned pitchers Brian Burres, Shane Loux, Andrew Kown and Wilmin Rodriguez to their minor league camp.