CINCINNATI -- It bothered Ryan Vogelsong this season that people still called him a fluke. It ticked him off when he was snubbed for the All-Star game. He viewed every duel with an opposing ace as a chance to prove he belonged with them.
But now that he holds the key to the Giants' season, Vogelsong doesn't care about any of that.
"It's not about me at this point," he said.
The right-hander takes the mound for Game 3 against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday with the Giants on the brink of elimination, trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five National League Division Series.
Considering the October stakes, this might be the biggest stage that Vogelsong, 35, ever gets to show a national audience that he ranks among the upper tier of N.L. pitchers.
So he must have been emotional when manager Bruce Bochy informed him of his Game 3 assignment.
"Yes and no," Vogelsong said Monday before a workout at Great American Ball Park. "Yes, because of the path that I've been on. But, no, because I didn't go into the series saying I wanted to start or not start. I went into the series saying that I was going to do what was asked of me.
"The fact that (Bochy) has given me the opportunity to start a game is tremendous. It's exciting. It's amazing. But it's about the team and what's best for us."
There are players who say they don't care what other people think. Vogelsong is not one of those players. As early as February, he grumbled that some corners dismissed him as a one-year wonder.
So he gave them a second year.
In 2011, Vogelsong went 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA and made his first All-Star team.
In 2012, Vogelsong went 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA and set career highs in starts (31), innings (1892/3) and strikeouts (158).
Still, he found respect elusive. When he lost to Jered Weaver of the Angels on June 20, he acknowledged that the defeat had a personal subplot: "(Weaver's) reputation speaks for itself, and for me to start having people believe I'm real, I have to win these games. I didn't do that, and I'm disappointed."