Baseball report: Ishikawa making case for more time; Barnette struggling in Japan

Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Tony Barnette is currently 3-5 with a 5.87 earned-run average for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan
Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Tony Barnette is currently 3-5 with a 5.87 earned-run average for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan's Central League.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa is making a case for more playing time for the San Francisco Giants.

Ishikawa, a 2002 Federal Way grad, ended the first half of the season by driving in three runs for the Giants during a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals Sunday.

The first baseman has been relegated to a pinch-hitting role for much of the season’s first half behind Aubrey Huff and highly-touted rookie Buster Posey. But Ishikawa has flourished since San Francisco moved Posey to catcher full time after trading Bengie Molina. Huff has been seeing playing time in left field, opening an opportunity at first base.

Ishikawa is 12-for-29 since the Molina trade with a homer and 10 RBIs. That one home run was a grand slam off Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, who started the All-Star Game for the National League Tuesday night. The Giants have won seven of nine during that stretch.

“The first few months of this season, I knew I wasn’t going to start,” Ishikawa told the Associated Press. “I just tried to stay mentally focused on what the job was at hand. I was going to come off the bench to hit or play defense. Just getting the opportunity on this road trip, at first kind of felt like it was a spot start to give some guys a day off. I went in there with no expectations.”

Ishikawa spent last season as San Francisco’s everyday first baseman after earning the job with an impressive 2008 season in the minor leagues. Last season, Ishikawa hit .261 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 regular season games.

“He’s really taken advantage of the opportunity here,” San Francisco Manager Bruce Bochy said. “I knew as soon as Buster started catching, we’d put (Ishikawa) in there and get a left-handed bat in there. He’s got some huge hits for us, great job at first base and he’s going to get some playing time.”

Before earning the starting first base job before the All-Star Break, Ishikawa was excelling as a pinch hitter. He was leading the Major Leagues with a .476 average (10 for 21).

The Giants (47-41) opened the second half of their season Thursday at home against the New York Mets.

Barnette struggling in Japan for Tokyo team

After getting off to a solid start during his first season with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League, Thomas Jefferson grad Tony Barnette has struggled with ineffectiveness and injury.

The right-handed pitcher started the season 2-1 with a 1.73 earned-run average to lead the Central League. In his first start of the season, Barnette threw seven innings of scoreless ball and struck out 11 in a 1-0 win over the Yokohama Baystars.

But after a 21-day layoff with gout, Barnette is currently 3-5 in 53 2/3 innings pitched with a 5.87 earned-run average and 47 strikeouts. He has given up 67 hits.

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.

Following his collegiate career, Barnette was a 10th-round selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft and steadily rose through the team’s system. He started out at the rookie ball level 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.

In Reno, Barnette finished with a team-best 14 wins with a 5.79 earned-run average in 29 starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team in Reno last season.

But following the 2009 season, the Swallows offered Barnette a reported 50 million yen ($518,100) to pitch in Japan. The money situation was a big reason why Barnette choose to re-route his baseball career to Tokyo for the 2010 season.

“I will be making way more than in the minor leagues,” Barnette said at the time. “A lot more. They gave me a chance to financially stabilize myself and get to go over and play baseball.”

Reid released by the Mariners, still playing

Brad Reid, a 2006 Decatur High School graduate, was released by the Seattle Mariners’ organization prior to the season in March after two seasons in the minor leagues.

But Reid is now playing for the Oakland County Cruisers in the Frontier League of the Independent Professional Baseball Federation. The team is based in Waterford, Mich.

Reid is currently 2-1 for the Cruisers with a 2.05 ERA in 18 games. He has thrown 26 1/3 innings and has 20 strikeouts.

Reid was drafted in 2008 by the Mariners in the 30th round out of Bellevue Community College, where he was a two-time All-NWAACC first-team selection as a starting pitcher. After posting a 0.19 ERA as a freshman in 2006 and helping BCC win the NWAACC championship, Reid signed on with the Oregon State Beavers before returning a year later to again play for the Bulldogs. He finished this season with a 7-1 record and posted a 0.56 ERA, gaining the interest of the Mariners.

Reid was 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA last year with the Class A Everett Aquasox. In 2008, he had a 2-2 record and a 7.79 ERA in 23 appearances, mostly with the Aquasox. He also had short stints with the Mariners’ Rookie League team and the Class A High Desert Mavericks.

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