Pirate Notebook: Vogelsong is finally a made man

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- If Ryan Vogelsong hadn't made the rotation with the spring he had, there would have been an investigation.

As it was, he was formally told he was on the roster yesterday morning, the first time he has made the roster coming out of camp.

"I wasn't taking anything for granted until they told me I was on the plane," Vogelsong said.

This spring, Vogelsong was a different pitcher than he had been since he was acquired in the Jason Schmidt trade in 2001.

And he put an exclamation point on his emergence by getting the win as the Pirates' defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-4, yesterday. Vogelsong followed Josh Fogg and pitched four innings, allowing one run and five hits with seven strikeouts.

"He was probably our best starter in spring training," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He kept up his end of the bargain, so we kept up our end of the bargain. He deserves this opportunity."

Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said Vogelsong took a big step forward this spring.

"The jury's still out as to where it goes, but he certainly showed us that he's been coming on and getting much better," Littlefield said.

The starting rotation for the opening series with the Philadelphia Phillies will be Kip Wells, Kris Benson and probably Vogelsong.

Josh Fogg will be pushed back to face the Cincinnati Reds, Wells will stay on his regular day and Oliver Perez, who stayed in Florida to pitch in a minor-league game today, will start April 11.

Jose Castillo likely will get the opening day start at second base and hit eighth.

Jason Kendall will be the No. 2 hitter behind Tike Redman. Although McClendon would like to bat Kendall third, he said it was "too enticing" not to put Kendall second in front o f Raul Mondesi, Randall Simon and Craig Wilson. Chris Stynes will bat sixth and Jack Wilson seventh.

Bullpen roles

The only members of the bullpen who were on the opening day roster last year are Brian Boehringer and Salomon Torres.

With Jose Mesa as the closer, Boehringer will get the first shot at being the setup reliever, although Torres also will be used into that role.

Brian Meadows will be the long reliever and spot starter.

The bullpen also will have rookie left-handers John Grabow and Mike Johnston and veteran right-hander Jason Boyd, who will be used in matchups against right-handed hitters.

Jack is back

Shortstop Jack Wilson was back in the lineup yesterday after missing four starts. His wife, Julie, had a miscarriage earlier in the week. Her family was in Bradenton to support her, and she will make the trip to Pittsburgh today.

"It's been tough, but she's fine and having her family here helped," Wilson said.

Spring wrapup

Despite a win yesterday, the Pirates finished with 20 spring losses for the first time since moving to Bradenton in 1969.

Their 12-20-1 mark is the worst record they've had in spring since going 6-18 in 1985.

The Pirates, however, set a spring attendance mark with 73,233 fans, surpassing the total of 68,390 fans in 1994.

The Pirates will work out at 1 p.m. today at PNC Park.



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