Sports

Ishikawa looking to secure San Francisco Giants’ first-base job

Federal Way High School grad Travis Ishikawa is fighting during spring training to become the San Francisco Giants’ everyday first baseman. Ishikawa leads the Giants with three home runs and is hitting .289 during the spring. - File Photo
Federal Way High School grad Travis Ishikawa is fighting during spring training to become the San Francisco Giants’ everyday first baseman. Ishikawa leads the Giants with three home runs and is hitting .289 during the spring.
— image credit: File Photo

This is a huge spring for Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa. The 25-year-old is currently fighting to become the everyday first baseman for the San Francisco Giants.

Ishikawa had two more hits, including his team-leading third home run in the Giants’ 8-4 split-squad loss to the San Diego Padres at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday. He is hitting .289 during the spring with two doubles and six RBIs.

“He’s taken the bull by the horns,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in the San Jose Mercury News. “He’s done a good job defensively, he’s swung the bat well, he’s hit lefties. He’s done all we’ve asked. That’s what you want to see from a young guy that’s getting the opportunity he’s getting.”

Bochy hasn’t named Ishikawa the Giants’ opening-day first baseman. But with nearly three weeks left before the Giants start the regular season, it appears Ishikawa is heading that way, according to his teammates.

“He seems a lot more relaxed,” right-hander Matt Cain said in the Mercury News. “It seems like he’s showing a ton of skills every game.”

“He knows he has a job to win, he’s trying to make some noise for himself— and he’s made a lot,” said Fred Lewis.

Ishikawa belted two home runs in the Giants’ first exhibition game this spring and hasn’t slowed down. Saturday was his fourth multi-hit game in 12 exhibition contests. His three home runs are tied with Ryan Rohlinger for the team lead.

“I feel the same way, that it’s my job to lose,” Ishikawa said. “I do have to show them that I am ready for that job, but I’m not putting any added pressure on myself.”

Ishikawa bounced back last year with an impressive season in the minor leagues. The first baseman hit a combined .299 with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs in 112 games with the Class AA Connecticut Defenders and the Class AAA Fresno Bees.

His numbers got him a late-season call up with the Giants, where he hit an impressive .274 in 95 at bats. Ishikawa also hit three home runs, 15 RBIs, six doubles and scored 12 runs for the Giants.

Once the Giants’ first baseman of the future, Ishikawa made a brief appearance in the majors in 2006, four years after San Francisco took him in the 21st round of the draft out of Federal Way High School.

“Ishikawa has played enough now that you can see that he’s going to be the first baseman and it will remain to be seen how much latitude he’ll be given against left-handed pitching,” general manager Brian Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’ve got time to find that out, too. He’s very determined, and we’re all impressed by how he’s handled things.”

Tony Barnette making noise

Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Tony Barnette earned a coveted non-roster invite to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ big league spring training camp after a solid 2008 season in the minors.

The right-hander has appeared in four games during the spring and had a 3.38 earned-run average with five strikeouts before being reassigned to Arizona’s minor-league spring training camp on March 13. Barnette will most likely start the 2009 season pitching for the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks’ Class AAA affiliate.

Last season, Barnette finished 11-7 with a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts with the Mobile BayBears, the Class AA Southern League affiliate of the Diamondbacks. He led the team with 153 2/3 innings pitched, 133 strikeouts and a 1.20 walks/hits/innings pitched (WHIP) percentage.

Barnette ended up as the team’s pitcher of the year after an amazing turnaround. His season started with him going 2-5 on top of a 6.60 ERA through his first nine starts. From May 17 until his final outing, Barnette posted a 9-2 mark while finishing tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 133.

Barnette, who worked at Auburn’s Big League Edge during the offseason, was drafted in the 10th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft by the Diamondbacks after pitching at Arizona State University. According to baseballprospectus.com, Barnette is the Diamondbacks’ eighth-ranked prospect for 2009.

Barnette also had a solid season playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League. He finished 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games in relief.

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