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BASEBALL: Ishikawa back with Brewers after stint on disabled list; Barnette rolling
Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa is playing his way back into shape after spending a month away from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The first baseman was activated from the disabled list on June 25 after being sidelined since May 27 with a left oblique strain. Ishikawa also spent six games playing for Triple-A Nashville.
“I was just counting down the days to be back,” Ishikawa told the Brewers’ official website. “I was feeling pretty good down there and seeing a couple games on TV made me want to get back that much quicker.”
The injury was a heart-breaker for Ishikawa. He had taken over as pretty much the Brewers’ starting first baseman after the team’s previous starter, Mat Gamel, suffered a torn ACL in his knee May 2 while chasing down a foul ball.
Ishikawa had played in 18 of the Brewers’ 21 games during the month of May before suffering the oblique injury. The 2002 Federal Way grad had a huge game during an 8-0 win over the New York Mets on May 15. Ishikawa was 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs.
On the season, Ishikawa is hitting .250 with four home runs, 17 RBIs and eight runs in 72 at bats.
After spending nine seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Ishikawa signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in December after shoulder surgery in June on his non-throwing arm. He suffered the injury while playing for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ AAA affiliate.
Ishikawa was hitting .251 with three home runs, 18 RBIs and 14 doubles in 56 games for the Grizzlies last season before the shoulder injury.
Ishikawa was a Giants’ draft pick out of Federal Way in 2002 and played 281 games for the team since 2006. He had a lifetime batting average of .265 with 15 home runs, 80 RBIs, 30 doubles in 603 at-bats for San Francisco.
Ishikawa spent a bulk of the 2009 season as the Giants’ everyday first baseman after an impressive spring training. During that season, Ishikawa hit .261 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 regular season games.
Barnette rolling in Japan League
Tony Barnette has found a home away from home in Japan. The Thomas Jefferson High School graduate is currently in his third season playing professional baseball with the Yakult Tokyo Swallows of Japan’s Central League.
Barnette, 28, originally signed a one-year deal with the Swallows on Jan. 7, 2010, after a steady rise through the minor league system of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization.
The Diamondbacks drafted the right-handed pitcher in the 10th-round in 2006 following a stellar career at Arizona State University. He started out in rookie ball in 2006, pitched in the Single-A Midwest League in 2007, the Double-A Southern League in ‘08 and spent the entire 2009 season playing for the Reno Aces of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Barnette finished 14-8 with a 5.79 earned-run average for Reno before inking with the Yakult Swallows during the offseason.
This is easily Barnette’s best season in Japan. He is currently working as the Swallows’ closer. On the season, Barnette is 1-1 with 19 saves and a 2.32 earned-run average in 32 appearances.
It’s a far cry from how Barnette’s journey to Japan began. In 2010, he was just 4-5 with a 5.99 ERA. He gave up 99 hits in 79 innings and struck out 70, mostly as a starter.
Barnette was eventually released by the Swallows after the season and he thought his Japan experiment was over.
But due to a variety of reasons, Barnette was re-signed by the Swallows on Jan. 12, 2011, for a second shot.
The contract included a club option for 2012, which the Swallows picked up during the offseason. The one-year extension is worth 58 million yen ($718,330 dollars).
Last season, Barnette made the move into the Swallows’ bullpen and had an impressive year. He turned into one of the best set-up relievers in the league, notching 22 holds and two saves and had a solid 2.68 ERA in 48 games. He allowed only 43 hits in 47 innings pitched and struck out 54.
After graduating from TJ in 2002, Barnette moved on to pitch at Central Arizona Community College before a two-year stint at Arizona State, where he pitched at the 2005 College World Series.
The Swallows put Barnette and his wife, Hillary in a two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district.