Sports

Going, going, gone: Ishikawa clubs first big league homer

Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa was called up to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday after hitting a combined .299 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs in the minor leagues.  - File photo
Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa was called up to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday after hitting a combined .299 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs in the minor leagues.
— image credit: File photo

Travis Ishikawa had quite a week.

The Federal Way High School graduate was recalled to the San Francisco Giants’ roster as the team’s starting first baseman after a two-year hiatus from the big leagues Wednesday.

But it doesn’t stop there. Ishikawa also connected on his first major league home run Sunday afternoon in a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder was also able to retrieve his home run ball from a fan at Atlanta’s Turner Field. Ishikawa signed two bats, two baseballs, two hats and a family photo for the fan who caught the ball.

“I don’t know what that’s really going to get you,” Ishikawa told the San Jose Mercury News, while smiling.

Ishikawa’s homer came in the second inning off Braves starter Charlie Morton after Aaron Roward led off the inning for the Giants with a double.

“All I was trying to do was hit a ball to the right side to get Rowand to third,” Ishikawa said.

Ishikawa’s two-run home run, which keyed the Giants’ win, was a welcome sight for San Francisco. The Giants entered the game with a league-low 10 home runs from their first basemen during the 2008 season.

Through Monday, Ishikawa is hitting a robust .355 in five games with the Giants. He is 6 for 17 with two runs, two doubles, a home run, a stolen base and three RBIs.

It’s kind of hard to believe that Ishikawa even got the opportunity to connect on his first major league home run. Once the Giants’ first baseman of the future, Ishikawa made a brief appearance in the majors in 2006, four years after San Francisco selected him in the 21st round of the draft after winning a state title at Federal Way. But last year, the 24-year-old hit .243 in 104 games with 126 strikeouts for the Class AA Connecticut Defenders and the Single A San Jose Giants.

But this season, Ishikawa hit a combined .299 with 24 homers and 94 RBIs in 112 games with Connecticut and at Class AAA Fresno, including .463 with seven homers in 11 games this month for Fresno.

Ishikawa has credited his turnaround to a newfound faith in God.

“I’m not feeling all the pressures that would burden my mind,” Ishikawa told the Mercury News. “Now, if a bad day happens, there’s always tomorrow. That’s the kind of thing where faith helps. I worried last year and all it got me was demoted from Double-A to A-ball.”

Ishikawa had success during a brief call-up in 2006, when he batted .292 in 24 at-bats. But he doesn’t pretend he had the game figured out.

“Deer in the headlights,” he said. “I was just swinging away and hoping the ball hit the bat. Now I’m more mature and I’m putting my trust in God. He’s the reason the balls are going farther.”

Manager Bruce Bochy said Ishikawa looks like a threat at the plate.

“A determined young man,” Bochy said. “He said, ‘I’ve got to turn it up a notch.’”... He takes a good cut and he’s got a good idea of the strike zone.”

In his 12 Major League games in 2006, Ishikawa hit an impressive .292 in 24 at bats. He also scored one run, had three doubles, a triple and four RBIs.

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

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