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                 === Vogelsong an unlikely postseason hero ===
 San  Francisco,  CA (Sports  Network) -  The San Francisco  Giants have been a
 study  in  perseverance all throughout  a postseason run  that now has them on
 the doorstep of a second World Series title in three years.
 And  what else  can be said about a  team that's won six times when faced with
 elimination  during  these playoffs?  Not to  mention one that  lost a pair of
 cornerstone  contributors over the course of this season, with All-Star closer
 Brian  Wilson a  Tommy John  surgery casualty  in April  and outfielder  Melky
 Cabrera   banished  into   exile  in  August  after  testing  positive  for  a
 performance-enhancing  substance  while making  a bid  for the National League
 batting title?
 Perhaps  no one on the San Francisco roster better exemplifies that never-say-
 die attitude than Ryan Vogelsong.
 The  fact  that the 35-year-old right-hander,  who turned in a fourth straight
 gem  with  5 2/3  shutout innings  in Saturday's 2-0  victory over the Detroit
 Tigers  in Game 3 of the Fall Classic, has etched himself into postseason lore
 is  stunning  enough.  It's  even  more so  when  considering  the  absolutely
 unconventional path he's taken to becoming a not-so-overnight success.
 Just  two years ago,  Vogelsong was seemingly nearing the end of a nomadic and
 injury-plagued  13-year career after being released by the Triple-A affiliates
 of  two separate  organizations (Philadelphia  and the  Los Angeles  Angels of
 Anaheim)  over  the span of  three months. The  previous three seasons, he was
 completely off the major league map while toiling on the Japanese circuit.
 There  was a  time where the veteran hurler's performance this postseason -- a
 3-0  record with  a microscopic  1.09  earned run  average in  four starts  --
 wouldn't  have  appeared so  eyebrow-raising. However, that  was in 2001, when
 Vogelsong  was  still  regarded  as  a  prospect  promising  enough  that  the
 Pittsburgh  Pirates  insisted on acquiring him  from the very same Giants in a
 blockbuster  deal  that  brought  top-flight  pitcher  Jason  Schmidt  to  San
 Vogelsong subsequently underwent elbow surgery that shelved him for the entire
 following season and never reached expectations with the Pirates. When finally
 cut  loose  by the  club after  the 2006  campaign, he  carried a 10-22 career
 record and a 5.86 ERA as a major leaguer.
 For most players with those credentials, having taken stops in 10 remote minor
 league  locales and a  foreign territory would warrant a hard look at a career
 change in their mid-30's.
 But  Vogelsong still wanted one more shot, and made the most of a certain last
 chance  when the  Giants -- the team that  drafted him in the fifth round as a
 20-year-old  13  years prior  -- offered  a minor league  deal prior to spring
 training in 2011.
 Vogelsong  returned  to the majors after  a five-year absence in April of that
 year  as  an injury fill-in for  the more credentialed -- and higher-priced --
 Barry Zito.
 It turned out to be far more than a brief stay.
 He  posted an impressive  6-1 record with a 2.17 ERA in the first half of that
 season,  numbers  good enough to  earn a surprise  addition to the NL All-Star
 team as a hand-picked selection from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
 Now  the same  guy that no team wanted  a couple of years ago is presently the
 best  pitcher on  one of the game's  most formidable staffs, the same one that
 also includes two former Cy Young Award recipients (Zito and Tim Lincecum) and
 a three-time All-Star (Matt Cain).
 "I  think  when you have gone  through what Ryan has  had to go through in his
 career,  injuries, being  sent down  or  pitching in  Japan, he  has a  deeper
 appreciation  for what you  have here, and also how hard it is to not just get
 here but stay here." said Bochy. "Again, I think that's why he's so relentless
 with  his work ethic, because he's been on the other side, and he doesn't take
 this for granted."
 With  his outing in Game 3, Vogelsong became only the fourth pitcher ever with
 four  consecutive  starts  of  surrendering  one  or  less  run  in  a  single
 postseason,  offering further evidence that the pitcher who was seen as a lost
 cause not too long ago has finally made it for good.
 He still doesn't see it that way, however.
 "I feel like every day I come in here with a little chip on my shoulder that I
 need  to  work harder than  the next guy,  and try and  get myself better on a
 daily  basis," Vogelsong said before Game 3. "And definitely game day, there's
 a chip there. I feel like I still have a lot to prove in this game."
 It's  that fighting  spirit that has enabled Vogelsong to thrive on baseball's
 biggest  stage after  years  of  being an  afterthought.  And  the exact  same
 mentality that has the Giants on the verge of being champions once more.
 10/28 01:51:40 ET

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