The Twins reached a verbal agreement on Tuesday to sign veteran pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to a minor-league contract. According to a source with knowledge of the transaction, Vogelsong will be invited to major-league spring training camp to compete for a job.
Vogelsong has had a peculiar professional journey that includes health problems, pitching in Japan and Venezuela, and nearly losing sight in one eye.
Get to know the Twins' new pitcher:
The 39-year-old righthander will turn 40 in July. If he makes the Twins’ 25-man roster, he would be the team’s oldest player since Jim Thome in 2011. He will also be among the oldest players in the league.
Vogelsong, the former fifth-round pick by San Francisco in the 1998 MLB draft, made his debut with the Giants in September 2000. He pitched two scoreless innings to close out a 13-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. He blew out his elbow in 2001 while playing with Pittsburgh and didn’t complete a full season until 2004.
Vogelsong struggled early in his career while battling arm problems and Bell’s Palsy. He was released by Pittsburgh after the 2006 season and then pitched three seasons in Japan. He returned to the Giants in 2011 and won 13 games. The next season he helped San Francisco win a World Series. He won a second World Series with the Giants in 2014. Vogelsong also credits his turnaround to his time in the Venezuelan Winter League where he pitched for Tiburones de La Guaira.
Vogelsong was a 2011 All-Star after producing a 6-1 record with 2.17 ERA in the first half of the season to secure his spot on the Giants highly touted starting rotation. He did not pitch in the All-Star Game, but went on to finish the season with a 13-7 record and 2.71 ERA, the lowest among San Francisco’s starters.
Vogelsong missed most of the 2016 season after he was hit in the face by a 92-mph fastball (Watch). He told the Pirates team trainer “My career’s over. I lost my eye.” Two-plus months later, Vogelsong returned to the mound to revive his career, once again. He pitched six innings, struck out six, walked one, gave up just three hits and one earned run in the no-decision. He finished the season with a 3-7 record and 4.81 ERA.