SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Vogelsong took a big step toward making his Cactus League debut when he faced live hitters in batting practice Tuesday. All went well as he threw about 40 pitches, and manager Bruce Bochy has him penciled in to pitch in a game Saturday.
"He's been eager to get out there," Bochy said. "He had a good day. He threw better today than his last outing when he faced some hitters. He's excited about getting out there. We are, too. He'll probably only go one inning, probably be the home game [vs. the Rockies] in that split squad. He's set to go now."
Vogelsong has been slowly working himself back after straining his back Feb. 7 while going through a regular offseason workout that included squatting on a balance ball while lifting 70-pound dumbbells. He's a projected member of the rotation along with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito, but he has a tight timetable to prepare adequately and build arm strength in time for the season's April 6 opening.
"It'll be a tough call when Spring Training's over," Bochy said. "We'll have him up to around five innings, 70 to 90 pitches, somewhere in there. We'll have a decision to make. But barring any setbacks, hiccups, it's going to be real close whether he'll make that first start or not."
If all goes well, Vogelsong could make a second start four or five days after his first appearance and then slip into a regular routine with four days of rest between starts.
"We're being cautious more than anything," Bochy said. "With that back we don't want any setbacks. He's going to be pretty ramped up for that one inning. With the other guys, when we started them, they bounced back a day early. We'll see how he comes out of that, then I can tell you when he'll pitch."
Vogelsong was 13-7 in 30 games, 28 of which were starts, with the Giants last year. He had the fourth lowest ERA in the league at 2.71.