Oakland Athletics' Stephen Vogt (21) is congratulated by third base coach Mike Gallego (2) after Vogt hit a home run, his first hit in the majors, off St. Louis Cardinals' Joe Kelly in the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 28, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot). Vogt lives in Tumwater in the off-season with his wife, Alyssa, a Capital High graduate, and their daughter, Payton.
BEN MARGOT — AP
In baseball, the silent treatment is a high compliment.
That’s what Stephen Vogt, a catcher in the Oakland Athletics organization who makes Tumwater his offseason home with his wife and daughter, received from teammates after the 28-year-old notched his first major-league hit — a solo home run — in a 6-1 Athletics win over the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28 at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum.
Vogt’s big hit came just days after his call-up to the big leagues from Triple-A Sacramento.
Coaches — including Athletics manager Bob Melvin — gave Vogt high-fives when he returned to the dugout, but teammates sat emotionless on the bench, failing to even look at Vogt.
A few seconds passed before Vogt got a celebratory mob from his teammates.
His stint in the major leagues might have lasted only four games while filling in for injured former Mariners catcher John Jaso, but the Athletics instantly adopted Vogt as one of their own on his second career trip to the major leagues.
“That’s the highest honor you can get,” said Vogt, who collected two hits in 13 plate appearances during his four games in late June. “If you do something well enough and big enough, you get the silent treatment. If my teammates didn’t care about me, they would’ve been there giving me high-fives.”
That was Vogt’s second call-up to the big leagues of his career and first with the Athletics. Traded to Oakland from Tampa Bay, which made him its 12th-round pick in 2007 out of Azusa Pacific, Vogt is finding a home back on the West Coast, playing most of this season with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League. As the everyday catcher, he’s been the team’s hitting star, too, starting six out of every seven games.
With the Rays, an organization part of the ultracompetitive American League East, Vogt wasn’t an everyday catcher, but more of a utility player seeing time in right field, left field, first base and catching throughout the minors. In Vogt’s three separate call-ups with Tampa Bay in 2012, he played in 18 games — seven as catcher and 11 as outfielder, designated hitter or pinch hitter.
Traded to Oakland on April 6 and assigned to Sacramento, Vogt already has surpassed his prior season-high of games caught (71 and counting) in a season.
But no matter the position, he’s always hit. He’s a career .302 hitter, and this season, Vogt said he feels more like himself, making his everyday work behind the plate a top priority.
“When you’re catching every night, you can’t think about your hitting,” said Vogt, who’s hitting .325 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI this year with Sacramento. “Your No. 1 job is to catch the game and help the pitchers.”
But that’s not to say Vogt didn’t work on his hitting in the offseason, which he credited to his big start. He teamed up with friend Jared Sandberg, an Olympia native, and worked with hitters and catchers for the Sandberg Baseball Club.
“He has a lot of passion for baseball and teaching,” said Sandberg, currently managing Tampa Bay’s Single-A affiliate, the Bowling Green Hot Rods. “For him to get sent over to the A’s and off to the start he did, I was extremely proud of him. He’s been tearing it up.”
Known as an offensive catcher who hits left-handed, the scouting report on Vogt raves about his communication skills with pitchers and he also has a good throwing arm. He’s thrown out 19 of 47 base stealers.
His first major-league hit came after he was 0-for-25 with the Rays in 2012.
Vogt called that first big-league hit a “surreal” moment with his wife, the former Alyssa Ferdaszewski, a 2003 Capital High graduate, and year-old daughter Payton in the stands.
“It was a long time coming,” he said. “It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for a long time. To get a home run with my wife and daughter there, it was the greatest feeling you could ever have.”