SAN FRANCISCO -- If America really is the land of opportunity, then Ryan Vogelsong is an ideal choice for Team USA.The Giants right-hander has committed to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, joining a provisional roster that includes a pitching staff with stars such as Toronto's R.A. Dickey, Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte. The full roster will be named on Thursday. Just two years ago, Vogelsong was a non-roster Spring Training invitee to the Giants' camp, attempting to return to the Major Leagues after four years of performing in Japan and Triple-A. Not only did Vogelsong succeed, but he also made the National League All-Star team that year and followed in 2012 with a 14-9 regular-season record and a 3-0 mark with a 1.09 ERA in four postseason starts. "Considering the path that I've been on, it's something I thought would never be possible for me to do five years ago," Vogelsong said Monday, referring to the honor of playing for Team USA. "To have the chance to do this is an amazing feeling. I'm really, really excited about being a part of it." Vogelsong considered more than just self-gratification in accepting the offer to participate in the Classic.
"This was really a tough decision for me because I feel like my loyalty should be to the organization and my teammates first -- to be as well-prepared for the season as I can," he said. "It wasn't an overnight decision."Vogelsong ultimately reasoned that his years of being a fringe performer actually should help him. Competing for a job each spring forced him to remain in peak physical condition through most of the year. That background should give the 35-year-old the physical resilience to thrive for both Team USA in March and with the Giants when they begin the regular season the following month. "This isn't something that is new to me," said Vogelsong, who expected to start throwing off a mound in late January. "With my track record being what it is, I've never really had to use Spring Training to get in shape. I've always been in a situation, until last year, where I had to be ready to go from Day 1 and be able to throw the ball the best I could the entire Spring Training." Should Team USA reach the Classic's championship round, which is scheduled for March 17-19 at AT&T Park, Vogelsong could find himself pitching on his home mound. He acknowledged that this possibility was "one of the pros" as he weighed the pros and cons of competing in the Classic. Vogelsong is poised to become the second Giants player to join the United States in the Classic. Outfielder Randy Winn was on Team USA in 2006.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.