Federal Way’s Travis Ishikawa remains with Giants’ organization, will start season at AAA Fresno

Travis Ishikawa will back in a familiar location when his 2011 baseball season begins for real Thursday night. After a week of uncertainty for the Federal Way High School graduate, Ishikawa decided to remain with the San Francisco Giants’ organization.

Ishikawa cleared waivers Wednesday and was outrighted to the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies. The first baseman was among San Francisco’s final roster cuts last week, when he was designated for assignment.

Ishikawa was hoping to sign with another Major League team after being released from the Giants’ 40-man roster. But there wasn’t a lot of interest outside the Giants’ organization in the veteran.

“I see ‘Ishi’ being with us this year,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com. “Selfishly, I’m glad he’s with us. It’s nice [to retain him], especially a guy with his experience and the job he did last year.”

Ishikawa last played for the Fresno Grizzlies back in 2008. In 48 games, he hit .310 with 19 doubles, three triples, 16 home runs and 46 RBIs. Fresno is slated to travel to Cheney Stadium to take on the Tacoma Rainier for the first time this season June 30-July 3.

The 27-year-old Ishikawa appeared in 116 games last year for the Giants during the regular season. The 2002 Federal Way grad hit a respectable .266 in 128 at-bats with 42 hits, 11 doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs for the 2010 World Series champions.

During the Giants’ run to the 2010 title, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound first baseman played in a total of 10 games during the postseason, including one start in Game 4 of the World Series.

Ishikawa finished 2 for 10 at the plate with two runs, a double and an RBI during the playoffs. The Giants swept the Atlanta Braves in the National League Divisional Series and needed six games to put away the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series before beating the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

Ishikawa’s bid to make the Giants’ opening day roster this season took a blow with an unimpressive performance during spring training. In 22 games in the Cactus League, Ishikawa hit just .173 with 13 strikeouts, no home runs and two RBIs. Belt finished his 2011 spring training at .282 with three homers and 13 RBIs.

Ishikawa did get several starts at first base during July and August of last year. During those two months, he received 109 of his at-bats and tallied 17 of his 22 RBIs on the season. In July alone, Ishikawa hit .295 with 14 RBIs, including a grand slam on July 3 against Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

Ishikawa spent a bulk of the 2009 season as San Francisco’s everyday first baseman after an impressive spring training. In 2009, Ishikawa hit .261 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 regular season games.

He also spent time with the Giants during the 2006 and ’08 seasons. Ishikawa has a lifetime batting average of .265 with 15 home runs, 80 RBIs, 30 doubles in 603 at-bats during his four-year Major League career.

Ishikawa was a 21st round draft choice by the Giants out of Federal Way in 2002. But he wasn’t the normal 21st rounder. The Giants dished out $955,000 to sign the first baseman. It was the highest bonus awarded for a player drafted after the first round at the time.