Sounds' pitcher Vogelsong just passing through

Thursday, August 9, 2001 at 1:00am

The golden boy with the golden arm may not be destined to remain in Nashville very long.

Young Ryan Vogelsong appears on the fast track - or fast plane - to Pittsburgh, home of the Major League Baseball Pirates. When he builds his pitch count in the vicinity of 100, the Pirates likely will be calling.

Lately, it has been one wild ride for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander, who began the 2001 season with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. He was promoted to the parent San Francisco Giants in late May and shipped back to Fresno after struggling in the bullpen.

That can happen to players who have been starting pitchers virtually their entire career.

Oddly enough, Vogelsong was in Nashville in late July, pitching against the Nashville Sounds. He held the Sounds hitless and struck out six batters in three-plus innings of work on July 27.

Three days later, he found himself part of the trade between Pittsburgh and San Francisco where Pirates' starting pitcher Jason Schmidt and outfielder John Vander Wal went to San Fran for outfielder Armando Rios and Vogelsong.

Vogelsong, 24, started singing like a songbird following the trade.

"It feels good to be wanted," he said earlier this week. "It feels good to be part of knowing they're (Pirates) trying to go young and make improvements toward the future. It was nice to know they want me to be a part of it."

Vogelsong (0-1, 4.50 earned run average with the Sounds) throws heat. He averages one strikeout per inning pitched. He had seven strikeouts in the Sounds' loss to Sacramento Tuesday night. (The Sounds and River Cats conclude their four-game series tonight at 7 at Greer Stadium.)

When asked whether he'll be wearing a Pirates' uniform soon, Vogelsong said, "I'm not going to worry about that. I'll just try and do what I do best and get better every day. When I do something good, I'll try to improve upon that and when I do something bad, I'll try to improve upon that too.

"When you start worrying about that (promotions) is when you start going downhill. I try and do things you can control. What I can control is what I'm doing here."

You can sense from talking to Sounds' Manager Marty Brown that the Pirates' interests are genuine and that Vogelsong has the tools to get him to the big leagues.

"He has a really good arm and three above-average pitches," Brown said. "He has great makeup. There is not anything not to like about Ryan. He is very competitive. Against us (July 27), he was a force.

"He has got good command (of his pitches). Walks have not been a problem all year. He thinks about how to get you out with the next pitch.

"I'm sure they're anxious to get him to Pittsburgh. We're here to build his arm strength and stamina. He looks like he's got a good head on his shoulders. Obviously, they need an arm, being traded for Jason Schmidt. We need to make sure he gets his pitch count up and progresses.

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