SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong tried a delivery alteration early this spring. He was not happy with his numbers in an injury-riddled 2013, when he went 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA, and he noticed from watching film of Dodgers ace and National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw that he might be able to get more shoulder tilt, like Kershaw, to improve his downward plane.
Then he went out and put up a 7.36 ERA in his first three Spring Training outings.
On Thursday night in his start against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium, Vogelsong once again went back to his old mechanics, and he delivered his best start of the spring, going five innings and giving up one run on four hits while striking out three and not walking a batter. The only scuff mark on an otherwise clean outing was a home run by Shin-Soo Choo, and Vogelsong threw 73 pitches, 44 of which were strikes.
"The command wasn't as good as I really wanted it to be, but it was nice kind of working some deep counts, and I think that kind of helped me get into my rhythm a little bit," Vogelsong said. "All in all, I'm pretty happy with it."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was, too.
"I thought his last two innings were his best innings," Bochy said. "He got the ball down better and had a good angle on it, better command. I thought he finished up really strong."
Noonan knows value of playing hard all spring
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buried under all the storylines of the 2013 Spring Training saga of the then-defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants was a very rare Arizona story.
Infielder Nick Noonan had already been sent to the Minor Leagues but was recalled late in Spring Training just to fill a roster spot for an away game. He hit then, he hit the next day, and by the time Opening Day rolled around, there was Nick Noonan in a Major League uniform.
He lasted 62 games in The Show before being sent back to Triple-A Fresno, but he got a long look, and the 24-year-old is getting one again now that Marco Scutaro's back is keeping the veteran off the field and the Giants are left to figure out how to replace him.
"It was crazy there for a couple of weeks," Noonan says now, reminiscing on that whirlwind of last year when, in the words of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, he "came out of the woodwork." Noonan says he learned that you can never give up on winning a roster spot, no matter how bleak it might look, but you also can't assume you've won anything even if you've been crushing the Cactus League.
"Just knowing that nothing's set until the last day is humbling, too," Noonan says. "You never know what's going to happen -- if you're going to make the team or not make the team. You just have to go out and play until the last day.
Noonan said the experience of last year has altered his approach this spring, in the best of ways.
"It eases the mind a lot, for me, at least. Just go out there and play until the last day, and they'll make a decision. If you do well, good things are going to happen. It's obvious."
HacMan back with Giants as ambassador
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former Giants All-Star and playoff hero Jeffrey Leonard has joined the team's front office as a community ambassador, the club announced Thursday.
Leonard, who played 14 years in the big leagues, including a memorable stint with the Giants from 1981-88, will represent the organization at various in-season and offseason community events in San Francisco, including the Play Ball Lunch and Breast Cancer Awareness Night at AT&T Park on July 2. He will be at the team's camp in Scottsdale through Sunday to attend club events.
Leonard hit .275 with 99 home runs and 435 RBIs in 789 games in his San Francisco career, and his .275 average as a Giant ranks ninth in the San Francisco-era record books while his 115 stolen bases rank seventh. He is best known in the Bay Area, however, for his 1987 season, when he hit .280 with 19 homers, made the National League All-Star team and was named MVP of the NL Championship Series after batting .417 with four homers and five RBIs in the team's loss to St. Louis in seven games.
"We are delighted to have Jeffrey back with the organization," Giants CEO Larry Baer said. "He joins a deep bench of Giants alumni who are involved in all aspects of the team. He truly embodies what it means to be a Giant and I can't think of a better ambassador for our organization. I know our fans will be thrilled to see him around the ballpark on a regular basis."
Will the Thrill laughs off milestone birthday
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants legend and current club special assistant Will Clark was greeted with birthday wishes Thursday, and they weren't standard birthday wishes. William Nuschler Clark, after all, was born in New Orleans on March 13, 1964, or 50 years ago.
When asked in the Giants clubhouse how he felt now that he's reached the half-century mark, Clark smiled.
"Everything still hurts like it did yesterday," Clark said. "Forty-nine is the same as 50."
Giants not concerned about Pagan's back
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Angel Pagan wasn't in the lineup Thursday because of a lower back strain, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that it wasn't a big deal and might only keep Pagan out of action for a few days. Pagan had some upper back issues earlier in the spring.
"I'm not concerned, to be honest," Bochy said Thursday. "I talked to Angel, and he could have played yesterday. There's some stiffness there, but I think he'll be fine once we give him a couple of days."