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BASEBALL: Barnette named all star in Japan, has 27 saves for Swallows; Ishikawa, Brewers rolling
Tony Barnette is feeling right at 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.
This is easily Barnette's best season in Japan. He is currently working as the Swallows' closer. On the season, Barnette is 1-2 with an impressive 27 saves and a 2.12 earned-run average in 48 appearances. He has given up just 39 hits in 46 2/3 innings, struck out 46 and walked only eight.
Barnette was even voted into the Japan League all-star series. The game is between players from Japan's Central League and Pacific League. The two teams play a three-game series, which occurred in late July. Barnette's Central League team won two of the three games and he threw one inning during the series.
The Yokult Tokyo Swallows are currently 54-57 and in third place in the Central League. The Yomiuri Giants are in first place with a 74-36 record.
Barnette, 29, 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.
Barnette's 2012 is a far cry from how his 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 the Tokyo's bustling Shinjuku district.
Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa is having a solid comeback season for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Federal Way High School graduate didn't play a single Major League game in 2011 after a shoulder injury.
Ishikawa has mostly served as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement at first base for the Brewers after coming off the disabled list on June 25 after being sidelined since May with a left oblique strain.
The injury was a heart-breaker for Ishikawa. He had taken over as 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 .270 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and 14 runs in 118 at bats. But he is starting to get more playing time recently. He had a huge three-RBI double during an 8-2 win over Atlanta Wednesday.
Ishikawa had an impressive August for the Brewers. During the month, he played in 17 games and hit .353 in mostly pinch-hitting appearances. The Brewers are currently 72-71 on the season and just three games back of the second wildcard berth from the National League. Milwaukee has won 18 of their last 23 games
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.