SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In one of general manager Brian Sabean's more successful trades, the Giants sent right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and outfielder Armando Rios to Pittsburgh for right-hander Jason Schmidt and outfielder John Vander Wal on July 30, 2001. Schmidt became an ace, making the swap a bonanza for San Francisco. That deal didn't necessarily end Vogelsong's future with the Giants. It might have been merely interrupted. For now, Vogelsong's back with the organization as a non-roster invitee to camp. Though he's a long shot to make San Francisco's season-opening pitching staff, he potentially can provide depth with his ability to start or relieve.
"I've been trying to get back here since I got traded. I loved it here so much," Vogelsong said Sunday, citing his relationships with pitching coach Dave Righetti, bullpen coach Mark Gardner and vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans, among others in the organization. "It feels good to be back in familiar territory with familiar people." Much has changed since Vogelsong, a fifth-round selection in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, last inhabited the Giants' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium. The year was 2001. Vogelsong was a 23-year-old prospect, having led the Texas League and all Giants farmhands the previous year with 147 strikeouts. Barry Bonds dressed in an adjacent stall. Then came the trade. Vogelsong, who had brief relief stints with the Giants in 2000 and 2001, endured Tommy John elbow surgery in 2002 and went 10-19 with a 6.00 ERA for the Pirates from 2001-06. Vogelsong pitched in Japan from 2007-09 before returning to the U.S. and performing in Triple-A for the Phillies and Angels last year. He proceeded to excel for Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, finishing 6-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts. Teammate Guillermo Rodriguez, a former Giants catcher, recommended Vogelsong to Evans, which led to the reunion. Vogelsong received a competing offer from the Dodgers. But his decision came easily.
"I was like, I just can't wear Dodger blue," he said.