New swing has Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa in a better place at plate

New swing has Pirates first baseman Ishikawa in a better place at plate | TribLIVE

Travis Ishikawa came to spring camp with no guarantees.

He was a nonroster invite with scratch-off lottery ticket odds of making the 25-man roster. The only reason he was invited at all was the Pirates failed to find a left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez via trade or free agency.

What he did have was a new swing.

The altered approach helped Ishikawa make a Cinderella run to a roster spot in March, beating out Andrew Lambo to become an unlikely platoon fit for Sanchez. Ishikawa is off to a strong start, batting .308 with a home run in the first week of the season. He has started five of the first six games at first base as the Pirates have faced all right-handed starters to begin the season. The Pirates return to play against another right-hander in the Cubs’ Edwin Jackson at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Ishikawa’s swing adjustment was born in a nondescript warehouse-type structure near Ishikawa’s offseason home in Southern California. It is there that private hitting instructor Craig Wallenbrock has studied the swings of nearly every successful major league hitter over the last 25 years. Ishikawa was introduced to Wallenbrock by his agent when Ishikawa was drafted by the Giants the 21st round in 2002 out of a Seattle-area high school.

“He’s watched so…

via New swing has Pirates first baseman Ishikawa in a better place at plate | TribLIVE.

Travis Ishikawa’s play mixing things up at first base for Pirates

Ishikawa’s solo jack00:00:26
3/19/14: Travis Ishikawa tattoos a solo home run over the right-field wall, knotting the score at 1 in the top of the fifth inning

BRADENTON, Fla. — If they are being objective and honest, most followers of the Pirates’ Spring Training will concede having considered Travis Ishikawa out of the picture even before he entered the batter’s box. Before Ishikawa got his first at-bat, he spotted Andrew Lambo 20 and Chris McGuiness 15, giving the competition quite a head start.

A strained right hamstring kept the veteran first baseman out of sight, definitely out of mind, for the first two weeks of exhibition play.

Since finally swinging into action, however, Ishikawa has made it hard to not be noticed. After going hitless in his first seven at-bats, he has gone 6-for-9, with a pair of tape-measure home runs, complicating things for the Bucs.

Not so much because he is tempting the club to move away from a commitment to either Lambo or McGuiness as Gaby Sanchez‘s lefty-hitting wingman. Lambo (3-for-34) has been cold all spring and McGuiness (0-for-10) has gone cold.

But if general manager Neal Huntington was of a mind to go after one of the outside options who have been on the back-burner for months, Ishikawa may be prompting him to hold off. With only 10 days to go to the March 31 Opening Day, only so much vacillating time remains.

“I think, most often, the organization usually has a pretty good idea of who they want to be their guy,” said Ishikawa, who is in his fourth different Major League camp in as many years. “But a lot of decisions can be made based on Spring Training. From first-hand experience, I don’t really know about that … but what I do know is you can’t really focus on what everybody else is doing, only on what you can do.

“So I just try to have good at-bats, so I can get going when the regular season starts, whether it is in Pittsburgh or Indianapolis.”

Not many 30-year-olds who have logged big league time in six of the last eight seasons would be so accepting of the possibility — perhaps even likelihood — of being sent to Triple-A.

But Ishikawa appears aware of the need to rehabilitate his reputation after three seasons in which he totaled 171 Major League at-bats with three teams (Brewers, Orioles, Yankees). He had been the primary first baseman in 2009-10 for the San Francisco Giants, who consigned him in ’11 to Triple-A, where he suffered a June shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. The Giants non-tendered him after that season.

So Ishikawa has been to a few of these rodeos. In 2011, he was the Giants’ last cut of the spring. He knows these opportunities can go down to the wire — and also that hopes can be clotheslined by that wire.

“So I’ve been in enough of these to know that the more you worry about stuff like that, the more it affects your play on the field,” said Ishikawa, who was invited to camp on a Minor League contract. “The biggest thing for me is to get myself ready for the season. Regardless of what happens here, I need to be ready to play. So I’m just preparing for that.”

The Bucs may not be able to afford carrying a part-time first baseman who can’t also assist in right field. It’s the Garrett Jones model. Ishikawa has very limited outfield experience, making it ironic that he incurred this spring’s hamstring injury playing the outfield, in the Feb. 25 Black vs. Gold squad game.

He has not set foot in the outfield since.

“I go where they tell me to go,” Ishikawa said. “I’m sure they’re trying to ease me back in. Knowing that hamstrings can be tricky sometimes, the last thing you want to do is re-aggravate it, so they’re helping me out with a lot of DH-ing and first base.”

Wherever his Spring Training leads, Ishikawa is pleased he resisted the urge to join the battle before he was fully healed.

“Absolutely … if this was five or six years ago when I was younger, I would’ve tried to play through it, and probably would’ve compensated in my swing so it wouldn’t hurt so bad, and it would’ve affected me.

“I’ve been around long enough to know what I need to do to get ready. The trainers did a phenomenal job of treating to get me healthy and back on the field. It was my best decision to hold off.”

Now Ishikawa is doing his best to make the Pirates staff’s decision difficult.

via Travis Ishikawa’s play mixing things up at first base for Pirates | MLB.com: News.

Chicago White Sox Sign Travis Ishikawa To Minor League Deal

The Chicago White Sox made a move today that bolstered their 3B depth in their system by adding corner infielder/first baseman Travis Ishikawa to their Triple-A Charlotte team.

Recently released by the New York Yankees, Ishikawa will try to earn  his way back to the big league level at some point this season.

via Chicago White Sox Sign Travis Ishikawa To Minor League Deal | Sports.

Travis Ishikawa makes debut at first base with New York Yankees

Travis Ishikawa makes debut at first base with Yankees - NY Daily News

He got the news Sunday, while headed to church near his home in the Bay Area, with Yankee GM Brian Cashman telling the former Brewer and Giant that he was headed to the Bronx – with a polite nudge to get to Yankee Stadium as soon as possible.

“I’ve been an anxious wreck since then,” new first baseman Travis Ishikawa said Monday at his new Stadium locker before batting in the No. 6 spot against the Royals. “I’m ready to hurry up and get out there. Caught a red-eye flight (Sunday) night, and got in (Monday) morning. Took a little nap and shaved my goatee and here I am.”

But Ishikawa was not Mark Teixeira or Jason Giambi or even Lyle Overbay. Ishikawa struck out twice against Jeremy Guthrie and looked a little tepid on defense, not even ranging to try to snag an Eric Hosmer grounder in the third. Cashman claimed Ishikawa off waivers from Baltimore, who just finished a series at the Stadium over the weekend. Ishikawa said he had been looking forward to playing at the Stadium (he had never played in the Bronx before) when he saw Baltimore’s schedule, but then got designated for assignment June 29.

“I’d lie to you if I said it didn’t bother me a little bit,” said Ishikawa. “When I first found out I was designated, a little part of you feels that little bit of failure, ‘Aw, man, I’m not good enough to be here.’ The more I prayed about it, it helped me to relax.”

Ishikawa, 29, played in six games for Baltimore this season, batting .118 with an RBI. He won a World Series with the Giants in 2010.

“When I heard it was this great organization, I didn’t believe it at first,” he said. “I had a missed call from the Orioles, and then my agent texted me – ‘I just heard you got claimed by the Yankees.’ I didn’t believe him at first. I had to call him up, ‘Are you serious?’ ”

Ishikawa added that he knew it wasn’t a crank call when Cashman was on the other end of the phone.

“I had the area code and I don’t have too many friends in New York,” he said.

via Travis Ishikawa makes debut at first base with Yankees – NY Daily News.

Baltimore Orioles promote Travis Ishikawa

Travis Ishikawa is back in Major League Baseball. The Federal Way High School graduate was called up by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. The first baseman was having an impressive season for the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles.

The promotion came after Ishikawa filed paperwork to exercise an opt-out clause in his minor league contract Sunday, according to his agent. The moved forced the Orioles to either add him to their 25-man big league roster within 48 hours or releasing him.

The 29-year-old Ishikawa was batting .316 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 49 games for Norfolk this year.

It’s still up in the air whether Ishikawa will stick around all season with the Orioles. Baltimore’s starting first baseman, Chris Davis, is leading Major League Baseball with 26 home runs and is hitting .337 with 66 RBIs. Manager Buck Showalter has also been using several different players at designated hitter.

But, since his call-up, Ishikawa has started two games for the Orioles this week and is just 1 for 9 with five strikeouts.

Ishikawa signed the minor-league deal with Baltimore in the offseason after a solid year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder didn’t play a single Major League game in 2011 after a shoulder injury.

Ishikawa mostly served as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement at first base for the Brewers last season after spending nine seasons with the San Francisco Giants’ organization. On the season, Ishikawa hit .257 with four home runs, 30 RBIs and 19 runs in 152 at bats.

Ishikawa was a San Francisco draft pick out of Federal Way in 2002 and played 281 games for the team since 2006. He has a lifetime batting average of .264 with 19 home runs, 110 RBIs, 40 doubles in 740 at-bats for San Francisco and Milwaukee.

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

via BASEBALL: Baltimore Orioles promote Travis Ishikawa – Federal Way Mirror.

Orioles Recall Travis Ishikawa, Start Him As Designated Hitter

Faced with a decision to either promote or lose Travis Ishikawa, the Orioles added the veteran first baseman to their major league roster June 18.

Ishikawa, 29, had an opt-out clause in his contract, which he exercised June 16. That gave the O’s a 48-hour window to either bring him to the majors, trade him or have him leave the organization as a free agent.

Ishikawa has spent the entire 2013 season at Triple-A Norfolk, where his bat has been red hot. He’s batting .316/.413/.525/.939 during 49 games with seven home runs and 31 RBIs.

During his major league career, Ishikawa has spent parts of four seasons with the Giants and one with the Brewers, amassing a career line of .264/.328/.405/.733. He is considered an excellent defensive first baseman.

Ishikawa’s stint with the Orioles might not last long, but he’s in the starting lineup June 18 in Detroit, batting eighth and serving as the designated hitter. He will face a tough task during his O’s debut, as he’ll be batting against Cy Young winner Justin Verlander for the first time during his career.

via PressBox: Orioles Recall Travis Ishikawa, Start Him As Designated Hitter.

Travis Ishikawa believes he’s in the right place at right time with Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. — Travis Ishikawa doesn’t remember getting hit square in the right cheek, only the glance of a fastball speeding at his head, then waking up on the ground thinking his jaw was shattered.

“I have to say it was the best hit by pitch of my life,” Ishikawa said. “It changed my life. It went from the worst thing in the world to the best thing in the world.”

Ishikawa, a 29-year-old first baseman whom the Orioles signed to a minor league contract this offseason, was a San Francisco Giants farmhand back then. The night before, he learned he was being promoted from the low Class-A Hagerstown Suns across the country to play in high Class-A San Jose.

He arrived in California in time to play that night. His baseball bag made the flight, his personal bag didn’t.

Ishikawa wanted to make an impression. He was working on keeping his front shoulder in against inside pitching. In an eighth-inning at-bat, he stayed in the box too long and took the fastball to his face.

He didn’t know then that it would lead to him meeting his future wife, Rochelle.

The next morning, the team trainer suggested Ishikawa see a dentist to make sure nothing was structurally wrong. He went and immediately took notice of the dental assistant, but he was too shy to strike up conversation.

“She wasn’t even supposed to be in that day,” Ishikawa said. “She has come in to help out. I saw her and saw how beautiful she was. I couldn’t eve make eye contact with her. I was too scared to talk to her. I didn’t say anything to her that day. My bag still wasn’t there, so I was wearing the same clothes I flew in with, so I smelled. Two weeks later they wanted me to come in for a check-up, that’s when I started talking to her a bit and it went from there.”

The couple married in 2007 and has three children. So Ishikawa knows first hand about the value of being in the right place at the right time. And now he believes he’s in an ideal spot in the Orioles’ spring training camp.

The Orioles have anointed Chris Davis to take over at first base for the departed Mark Reynolds, but executive vice president Dan Duquette likes Ishikawa’s defense at first, making him a candidate for a bench role. Duquette has said that he tried to sign Ishikawa last offseason before he instead signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Ishikawa owns a career .995 fielding percentage as a first baseman, but his chances of making the team this spring will hinge on his ability to play the outfield. He played just 3 2/3 innings in the outfield last year, but he played 34 games there in 2011 in Triple-A.

“That would be an added feather in his hat,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s had a little experience out there, but I want him to get his feet on the ground and get started. I don’t want to categorize somebody as a ‘What if?’ but he provides some depth and he’s a guy who have some experience on some pretty good teams. He was coveted in the offseason.”

Ishikawa is eager to show the Orioles that he can be versatile.

“I know I can do it,” he said. “I just need a little bit of…

via Travis Ishikawa believes he's in the right place at right time with Orioles – Baltimore Sun.

The Baltimore Orioles sign 1B Travis Ishikawa

The Orioles have signed 29-year old lefty swinging 1B Travis Ishikawa. Ishikawa played in 94 games for the Milwaukee Brewers last year and he was 39 of 152 (.257 avg, .757 OPS) with 19 runs scored, 4 homers and 30 RBIs. He has now played in 375 games in his first five years in the majors and he is 199 of 755 (.264 avg, .733 OPS) with 99 runs scored, 19 homers, 110 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Ishikawa will get a shot to win a bench job for the Orioles next spring.

The Baltimore Orioles sign 1B Travis Ishikawa | ChatOrioles.com.

Marlins at Brewers: Travis Ishikawa and Norichika Aoki named players of the game

Pinch-hitters Travis Ishikawa and Norichika Aoki came through in big ways for the Brewers. Ishikawa’s two-out, two-run single in the sixth tied the game, 5-5. Aoki’s safety squeeze in the eighth snapped that tie and put the Brewers on top, 6-5.

via Monday game report: Marlins at Brewers – JSOnline.

A pair of Asian imports are seeing their duties increase – Norichika Aoki and Chien Ming Wang

Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke has been flexible with his lineup ever since Mat Gamel tore the ACL in his right knee. Taylor Green and Travis Ishikawa, the other options to replace Gamel at first, both swing the lumber from the left side. The Brew Crew sees them as nothing more than platoon pieces, though, and rightfully so. As a result, Corey Hart will be shifted to first base on occasion.

Milwaukee would prefer not to shuffle Hart frequently between first and the outfield, but the hot hitting of Norichika Aoki has been forcing Roenicke’s hand. The left-handed-hitting Japanese import continues to impress in May (.294/.368/.431) and is hitting .394 in his last 13 games.

The fact that Aoki, 30, is succeeding against southpaws to a clip of .310 in 29 at-bats really helps his case for regular duty, possibly relegating Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan to platoon duty in center field. As long as Aoki continues to produce, Roenicke is fine with leaving Hart at first base – if it’s helping the O.

Aoki sported a .340 career average in his seven-year Japanese career, which included three batting titles. He clearly knows how to handle the stick, and he displayed double-digit home run and stolen base capacity overseas. While the power and speed numbers haven’t shown up – they may if he gets comfy playing every day – his batting average contributions won’t go unnoticed for too much longer in deep mixers. -Keith Hernandez

The Nationals placed right-hander Ryan Mattheus (plantar fasciitis) on the 15-day disabled list and activated Chien-Ming Wang, who’ll be a long reliever. It’s not the role in which he and fantasy owners envisioned, but he may draw a start — or six — before 2012 ends.

Wang, 32, was doing some encouraging work in spring training before he incurred a severely strained hamstring. He was solid in his first few minor league rehab starts too, but in his last couple, he left something to be desired – perhaps because he knew the Nats didn’t need him. The Taiwanese right-hander wrapped up his farm work with a 3.52 ERA, 33 hits allowed, six walks and 18 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings.

Wang was working his way back into form; he steadily improved his ratio of ground-outs to air-outs and by his last start was in peak shape. The sinker-baller may never rediscover the ability that helped him win 19 games with the Yankees in both 2006 and 2007, but he’s as close as he’s been in four years. Wang’s surgically repaired shoulder has given him no problems.

via A pair of Asian imports are seeing their duties increase.

Milwaukee Talks: Travis Ishikawa

The inclusion of 28-year-old Travis Ishikawa on the Milwaukee Brewers’ Opening Day roster surprised some as the team headed into the 2012 season, but his addition to the organization and the decision to break camp with him made sense.

He’s a slick a glove man at first base, with a .995 career fielding percentage. He is also experienced coming off the bench, is left-handed and has a bit of pop, having hit as many as 22 homers in a season in the minors.

His role has become more pronounced of late however, with the season-ending injury to first base starter Mat Gamel.

Ishikawa took some time to speak to OnMilwaukee.com about the challenges a new player faces in moving to a new city, his impressions of Milwaukee, the Brewers and the seemingly ever-changing role within the team.

OnMilwaukee.com: You signed here as a free agent from San Francisco – can you talk about what a ballplayer goes through in getting himself adjusted to a new city?

Travis Ishikawa: I got spoiled, living in the Bay Area so I was actually living at home (in Danville, Calif.) and going to the field every day so this is not

via OnMilwaukee.com Sports: Milwaukee Talks: Travis Ishikawa.

Travis Ishikawa 2 homeruns helps power Brewers past Mets

New York – Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has been looking for somebody on his bench to step up and make enough impact on a sputtering offense to warrant regular playing time.

Breaking through with the biggest offensive night of his career, Travis Ishikawa belted two home runs and drove in five runs Tuesday night to propel the Brewers to an 8-0 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

With first baseman Mat Gamel lost for the season with a knee injury, Roenicke has been rotating three players at that position – Ishikawa, Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad. In his 10th start of the season there, Ishikawa staked a firm claim on increased playing time.

“I’ve been trying to make that statement ever since ‘Gam’ went down,” said Ishikawa, whose home run and RBI totals were career highs. “All I can do is when I’m in there, try to do my best and have quality at-bats. “It’s our job to be ready to go in those situations. I’ve been kind of dealing with that my whole career. I’ve been a guy who has to always be ready to go.”

via Ishikawa helps power Brewers past Mets – JSOnline.

Travis Ishikawa may have to play outfield to stay in MLB

Whatever it takes:Travis Ishikawa has played in 281 major-league games, all at first base. But, to make the Brewers’ roster, he’s probably going to have to show he can also play the outfield, a position he began playing seriously only last year in the minor leagues.

“I tell everybody I don’t think I’m going to win any Gold Gloves out there,” Ishikawa said. “But I definitely feel like I can make all the plays I need to make to help the club win.”  Ishikawa’s chances probably weren’t as good until Corey Hart needed right-knee surgery earlier in the week. With Hart not assured to be ready by April 6, the Brewers need help in the outfield as well as behind Mat Gamel at first.

Ishikawa is a considered a plus-defender at first. He’s expected to receive opportunities over the next few weeks in the outfield as he looks to build on the 34 games he split in left and right field with Class AAA Fresno last year.

“I started doing outfield stuff the last couple years because it was becoming apparent I wasn’t going to be the everyday first baseman in San Francisco,” said Ishikawa. “I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to help the team. The more positions you can play, it can only help the club and increase your chances of getting on the field.”

via Brewers’ Greinke thinking about his future – JSOnline.

Travis Ishikawa inks deal with the Milwaukee Brewers

First baseman Travis Ishikawa will be with a new organization for the first time in his professional baseball career next season.

After spending nine seasons with the San Francisco Giants, the first baseman signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. Ishikawa was a Giants’ draft pick out of Federal Way in 2002 and was a key reserve on San Francisco’s World Series team back in 2010. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound left hander will attend the Major League spring training camp with the Brewers, but is not guaranteed a spot on Milwaukee’s 25-man roster.

Ishikawa is coming off shoulder surgery in June on his non-throwing arm. He suffered the injury while playing right field for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants’ AAA affiliate. Ishikawa was hitting .251 with three home runs, 18 RBIs and 14 doubles in 56 games for the Grizzlies before the shoulder injury. Ishikawa’s last game was June 12. He was designated for assignment by San Francisco following spring training last year after spending the previous two seasons and parts of two others, on the Giants’ Major League roster. After clearing waivers, Ishikawa was outrighted to Fresno. Ishikawa was hoping to sign with another Major League team after being cut from the Giants’ 40-man roster. But there wasn’t a lot of interest in the veteran first baseman before the 2011 season.

During San Francisco’s World Series season, Ishikawa hit .319 (15-for-47) as a pinch-hitter and was regarded highly enough to start Game 4 against the Texas Rangers. Ishikawa also drew a key walk in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against Atlanta that fueled a ninth-inning rally. During the entire 2010 postseason, he played in a total of 10 games and finished 2 for 10 at the plate with two runs, a double and an RBI during the playoffs.

The 28-year-old Ishikawa appeared in 116 games in 2010 for the Giants during the regular season when he hit .266 in 128 at-bats with 42 hits, 11 doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs. 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. Travis 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.

via BASEBALL: Ishikawa inks minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers – Federal Way Mirror.