Growing up in Visalia, Stephen Vogt was a big Giants fan. So were his parents. They even had season tickets at AT&T Park, so to hit a home run on Wednesday night and then drive in three runs with a pair of two-out singles Thursday in the A’s 6-1 victory left him feeling a bit high.
Vogt has been on a high for awhile, pretty much since his recall. He’s hitting .367, for crying out loud. During his current 10-game hitting streak, he’s hitting .457, and .412 with two outs and runners in scoring position. Bob Melvin has to have him in the lineup right now somewhere — right field, catcher, and now first base. He played some third base in college, so maybe second? Could he turn the DP?
But to do what he’s done at AT&T the past two days has been the highlight of his return to the majors.
“For about six years we had season tickets at AT&T,” Vogt said. “We’d come to 20-30 games a year, come up for a weekend series and just spend a weekend in the city. I love the city. So to play here the last two days is huge for me. As a kid, this was my dream stadium where I grew up watching Barry Bonds and J.T Snow hitting in the left-handed batter’s box. To get to do it myself was a pretty special moment these last two days.
“There are just a lot of memories here and dreams coming true for a little kid who used to sit up in the stands at Pac Bell.”
Vogt said he and his family used to have seats halfway down the third baseline.
“Great seats,” he said. “I can remember sitting in the stands and thinking, `Man, it would be so cool to play on this field.’ And now I finally got to do it.”
Vogt, who also played Tampa Bay and caught Scott Kazmir in his first incarnation as a premier pitcher, said the lefthander looks better than he’s ever seen him.
“He’s pitching, man, he’s pitching,” he said. “He’s throwing all of his pitches in any count, at any time. He looks great. Today, I had a great angle at first base to see the movement on his pitches. He moves feet, he moves eyes, and then he dots up the corners and is able to get people to chase pitches. It’s really remarkable. He’s been Mr. Consistency for us, and hopefully he can ride it out in the second half.”
Melvin said before the game that he plans to do next to nothing during his four-day All-Star break. At most, a little gardening.
But now the manager not only has to watch the All-Star Game with six of his players in it, but also the Home Run Derby, which had Yoenis Cespedes entered and now has added Josh Donaldson. Donaldson was named to the last spot on the A.L. derby squad.
“Just another thing to worry about,” said Melvin. “You get an All-Star Break and then you get to sit there and grind about a home run derby. But you know what? You have to put yourself in their shoes, too. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I hope that they enjoy it and come back in one piece.”
Donaldson is ecstatic about getting picked.
“I like to have fun and hit homers in BP, so it’s just going to be another round of batting practice with a lot more people watching,” Donaldson said.
Making it even more special is that A’s bullpen coach Darren Bush will be his designated pitcher.
“That’s another thing that’s going to be really cool about it,” Donaldson said. “He was my first manager when I got traded over. I had him high A, Double A and in Triple A. And now he’s back in the big leagues. I remember hitting off him in the minor leagues, so it’s going to be great just for the journey both of us has made to get up here. We’ve been through a lot of battles together.”