August 13, 2022

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In familiar territory, Vogelbach launches another dinger

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MILWAUKEE – For 1 1/2 seasons, Daniel Vogelbach called American Family Field home.

After struggling for much of 2020 with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the Brewers took a chance on him late in that season, claiming him off waivers. The slugger belted 13 homers in 112 games during his time in Milwaukee.

On Tuesday night, Vogelbach was able to homer again in Milwaukee, only this time, he was in a Pirates uniform.

In the sixth inning of the Pirates’ 5-2 loss, the 29-year-old blasted a 95 mph sinker from reigning Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. The ball was crushed for a no-doubt 420-foot home run that left the bat at 104.5 mph.

“Good swing,” said manager Derek Shelton. “Corbin executed some pitches to him early and Vogey was able to get a [sinker] that was out over the plate.”

Vogelbach always enjoyed hitting in Milwaukee. Whether it was a two-home run, five-RBI day against the Royals or a walk-off grand slam against the Cardinals, he was comfortable.

“My time here was fun,” he said, while downplaying sentimental feelings. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there. It’s not my former team, it’s just another opponent. And that’s the kind of way that I look at it.”

The home run marked his second of the season and his 10th hit overall. With his 1-for-4 line Tuesday, his average is at .323.

“He’s had really good at-bats,” said Shelton. “He’s been consistent and is probably right at the top of our consistent at-bats that we’ve had throughout the first 11 games.”

Vogelbach also continues to thrive in a new role: the leadoff spot. In his career, the seven-year veteran had never led off. But this season? He has hit six times in that spot, slashing .333/.400/.625.

“It’s his ability to control at-bats,” said Shelton. “We’re going to put people in positions where we value the spot and the order. Vogey hasn’t hit there before, [so] it maybe looks a little weird but he’s been very productive to start the season in that spot.”

His best performance in the leadoff spot came on Thursday against the Nationals when he went 4-for-6 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. Those four hits tied a career high.

Despite it being a new spot in the lineup, he hasn’t changed his approach.

“You only lead off the game one time no matter where you’re at in the lineup,” Vogelbach said. “Just taking it with that mentality and trying to start the game and get on base. [I’ve] got a lot of really good hitters behind me, so make it easy on them.”

Vogelbach has shown an ability to get on base in his career. In 2019 with the Mariners, he hit 30 home runs, walked 92 times (.341 OBP) and was named an All-Star.

“They don’t make them any better than Dan Vogelbach, I’ll tell you that,” said Pirates hitting coach Andy Haines. “It’s just the talent of the player. I believe in him as an offensive player. I think in ‘19 when he was an All-Star, I think that’s who he is.”

When Milwaukee picked him up off waivers in 2020, Vogelbach made an immediate impact. In 19 games, he batted .328 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

The following season, he struggled, hitting just .219 with nine home runs. But he made his presence known as he rooted on his teammate, Rowdy Tellez, who essentially took his spot.

“The thing I’ve said about him publicly over there is if you want to know what kind of guy Dan Vogelbach is, watch him last year root for Rowdy Tellez from the top step,” said Haines. “That summarizes Dan Vogelbach, where his heart is.”

Vogelbach has since moved on from Milwaukee and is now looking to win games with a new team.

“I’m just trying to win a game for the Pittsburgh Pirates,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’m doing every single night, trying to drive runs in, get on base and score runs.”

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