Ishikawa approaches return

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Travis Ishikawa could return to first base for the Giants by this weekend.

Ishikawa was expected to play first in a Minor League exhibition Wednesday, marking his initial appearance in the field this spring.

Ishikawa tore ligaments in his left foot before camp opened but has progressed steadily. He said that he accumulated 11 at-bats in Minor League intrasquad games Monday and Tuesday. While his Giants teammates enjoy Thursday’s off-day, Ishikawa will report to the Minor League complex to play another game. Barring setbacks, he believes that he can play in a Cactus League game by Friday or Saturday.

Ishikawa has tested his foot by running the bases after each game. “I don’t know what the speed looks like, but I’m pushing it pretty hard,” he said Wednesday.

The Giants will welcome Ishikawa’s return. Given starting first baseman Aubrey Huff’s occasional defensive struggles, Ishikawa likely will receive plenty of activity as a late-inning replacement this season.<p/>

*****

Wednesday was a promising day for what could be two-fifths of the Giants’ starting rotation.

Barry Zito worked 3 1/3 innings and allowed just one run despite yielding four hits and walking three. He faced a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third inning when he forced ex-teammate Eric Chavez to hit a comebacker, generating a forceout at home plate. Catcher Bengie Molina barely missed completing an inning-ending double play with his throw to first.

Molina praised Zito’s ability to throw his fastball inside to right-handed batters. “I was very excited every time he hit that corner,” Molina said.

Right-hander Todd Wellemeyer, who’s moving closer to locking up the rotation’s fifth spot, pitched a perfect fifth inning in what amounted to a bullpen tuneup for his start Saturday against Cincinnati.

All spring, Wellemeyer has insisted that he feels like the pitcher who finished 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 2008 for St. Louis and not the one who slumped to 7-10, 5.89 last year. He never rested his arm during the 2008-09 offseason, and he notices the difference in his fastball velocity.

“Being able to throw in the mid-90s again is huge,” said Wellemeyer, who has allowed two runs in 10 innings. “Last year it was 90 and I was hoping [the hitters] couldn’t catch up to it. But they did.”

*****

Emmanuel Burriss and the Giants’ medical staff will consider multiple options when they discuss the next move in the infielder’s recovery from a broken bone in his left foot.

Burriss, 25, consulted noted orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday in North Carolina. Dr. Anderson should be a familiar figure to Bay Area sports fans. He performed surgery to fix the stress fracture in the left foot of San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree in March. Crabtree was physically ready to play for the Niners once he ended his holdout in October.

Dr. Anderson didn’t urge any particular course of action, and Burriss isn’t yet certain what he’ll do. He could elect to undergo another operation, which might involve removing the pin that was inserted when he broke his foot last July and replacing it with a larger pin. Or he could skip surgery and allow nature to heal his foot. Burriss also mentioned the possibility that he could forgo surgery and be walking normally in two weeks. That’s obviously far from a guarantee.

*****

The Giants trimmed their spring roster to 46 by optioning third baseman Conor Gillaspie to the Minor Leagues and reassigning the following players to Minor League camp: outfielder Roger Kieschnick, left-handers Craig Clark and Clayton Tanner and right-handers Rafael Cova, Steve Edlefsen, Eric Hacker, Osiris Matos, Dan Turpen and Craig Whitaker.<p/>

– Chris Haft

1 Comment

Why does Wellemeyer automatically get the 5th starter job over Pucetas, who’s been the better pitcher?

This would be just another example of a mediocre veteran getting preference over a promising young pitcher (6 years younger).

And why do so many assume Wellemeyer will return to his 2008 production rather than 2009: because he says so?

The pitching junkyard is littered with mediocre righties who have had one really good year under Dave Duncan only to revert to their normal crappiness (Kyle Lohse, Kent Bottenfield, etc.).

Maybe we should trade Pucetas for another crippled mediocrity (Did someone say Freddie Sanchez?). Keep the tradition going.

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