Sports

Ishikawa: ‘It was the greatest three days of my life’

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

It was three days that Travis Ishikawa will never forget.

“I have been dreaming of that moment since I was four or five years old.” Ishikawa said. “It was the greatest three days of my life.”

The 21-year-old, who led Federal Way High School to the 2001 Class 4A state championship, made his Major League debut with the San Francisco Giants April 25, collecting one hit in two plate appearances against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Phoenix’s Chase Field.

Both of Ishikawa’s at-bats were pinch-hit appearances and his hit came April 26 on a change-up from Arizona ace Brandon Webb. Ishikawa was called up to the Major Leagues by the Giants on Easter Sunday to take the roster spot of starting first baseman Lance Niekro while he was on bereavement leave.

His Major League debut came in a Tuesday night game when he pinch-hit for pitcher Jack Taschner to lead things off in the top of the seventh inning. Ishikawa swung at the first Major League pitch he saw from Diamondbacks righty Casey Daigle, and grounded out to the shortstop.

His second at-bat came the next night and after singling off Webb, Ishikawa moved to second base on a Randy Winn single, took third on a flyout by Omar Vizquel, and scored his first big-league run on an RBI single by Steve Finley.

After his stint with the Giants, Ishikawa was sent back down to the Class AA Connecticut Defenders, where he played in eight of the first nine games of the season for the Defenders before receiving “The Call.”

He was hitting .323 with one home run and five RBIs at the time of his promotion. Ishikawa became the 17th player since 2003 (when the franchise became a San Francisco affiliate) to see time in the big leagues with the Giants, and the first-ever Connecticut Defender to play in the Major Leagues.

Here’s how the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder described his three days with the Giants:

Mirror: Where were you when you found out you would be going to “The Show?”

Ishikawa: “I was in Philadelphia. We were playing against Trenton and I had went over to some cousins’ house for Easter dinner. I got a call from the Giants’ assistant general manager and he needed to know what airport they needed to fly me out of. I thought I was going to AAA (Fresno). So I asked him where I was going and he told me I was going to the Big Leagues. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I got real excited and my legs started to shake and I had to sit down in the front lawn of their house.”

Mirror: Who did you call first to break the news?

Ishikawa: “I told my family that I was eating dinner with and then I called my parents. I didn’t expect it at all. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. (The Giants) needed a guy on the bench. Obviously my goal was to get to the Big Leagues, but I had no idea I would get this opportunity so fast. I wasn’t really expecting to be put on the Giants’ 40-man roster.”

Mirror: What was it like to walk into a Major League Clubhouse?

Ishikawa: “When I first got there, I walked in with my bag on my shoulder. The clubbie (clubhouse attendant) immediately grabbed my bag and started unpacking it while I was talking to him. He was literally hanging up my shirts and putting my shoes and shirts into my locker. It was awesome. Then I walked into one of the other rooms off of the clubhouse and there was just everything you could think of in there to eat and drink. There were all kinds of chips, Gatorade, stuff to make sandwiches. So I made myself a sandwich and just hung out until batting practice.”

Mirror: “How much meal money did you get?”

Ishikawa: “I think it was something like $80 a day. I think I got a check for $250 for the weekend and I didn’t have to spend much of it. I met up with a couple guys that I got to know during spring training and we went to a steak house on the first day and they picked up my lunch. But my dad and girlfriend did come down and I took them out to lunch and I did tip the clubhouse guys. They have them down here (in Connecticut), but they treat you a little better up there.”

Mirror: How was Barry Bonds?

Ishikawa: “I didn’t talk to him. I stayed away from him. He has his own pre-game routine. But I would see him talking with other guys. He wasn’t mean or anything. He seemed like he was enjoying himself. He has to handle a lot of stuff.”

Mirror: What happened when San Francisco manager Felipe Alou told you to pinch hit?

Ishikawa: “When I was on deck, I was getting butterflies. I was thinking, ‘Here it is. This is going to happen in the next few minutes. This is it.’ But when I got up to the plate, I felt OK. I didn’t feel like I had a thousand pounds on my head or anything. The first pitch I saw was a fastball. I remember seeing it out of (Arizona pitcher Casey dfaf) hand and then the next thing I remember is running down the line. I grounded out up the middle. It happened so fast.”

Mirror: What was it like to get your first Major League hit?

Ishikawa: “I saw two pitches my second at bat. The first was a two-seam fastball on the outside corner for a strike. The second was a change-up down on the inner half and I was out front of it. I actually broke my bat and the ball bounced between first and second. It was like it was in slow motion and I thought it was never going to get to the outfield. But the second baseman dove for it and I saw it roll past his glove and go into the outfield. They threw the ball in and I put it in my locker. They also gave me the lineup card and I got to keep my jersey.”

Mirror: When will you be back in the Big Leagues?

Ishikawa: “I have no idea. They don’t tell me anything. I’m just hoping to have a good year and maybe get up to AAA, then maybe get a shot to be a September callup (when Major League teams expand their rosters to 40) and pinch hit and get some more experience.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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