Results tagged ‘ Travis Ishikawa ’

Uribe has steady job — for now

SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Uribe is doing more than just filling in for third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

“To be honest with you, he’s our everyday third baseman right now, until we do finally decide what’s the best place to leave Pablo,” manager Bruce Bochy said before Saturday’s Giants-St. Louis Cardinals game.

In short, the Giants could decide that their best infield includes Uribe at third base and Sandoval, who moved across the diamond after missing four games with tightness in his right elbow, at first base.

Defense ultimately could be a determining factor. Travis Ishikawa, who was starting to hit proficiently before losing his role to Sandoval, is a superior defender at first. Uribe is more than capable defensively, but Sandoval frequently made highlight-quality plays at third before being injured.

The Giants signed Uribe precisely for instances such as this one. He’s a former regular, having averaged 490 at-bats per year with the Chicago White Sox from 2004-07, who remains capable of playing second base, shortstop or third on an everyday basis for prolonged stretches.

– Chris Haft

 

Sandoval’s elbow causes concern; more from Sabean

SEATTLE — Pablo Sandoval has a tender right elbow which he injured in Friday night’s seventh inning as he dove to stop a Kenji Johjima grounder. This limited Sandoval to designated-hitter duties Saturday, a role he’ll probably occupy again Sunday.

But Sandoval’s diminished ability to throw affects more than just whether he can play third base.

Manager Bruce Bochy will be forced to keep catcher Bengie Molina in the lineup until Sandoval can throw again. Molina already has started eight games in a row and might not rest again until Thursday’s scheduled off-day. Meanwhile, his batting average has taken a beating, dropping from .304 to .276 during a 1-for-17 skid entering Saturday. Bochy said he wanted Sandoval to catch Sunday, but Molina likely will have to keep toiling.

Bochy said that emergency No. 3 catcher Kevin Frandsen is not ready to start a game behind the plate.

Summoning a catcher from Triple-A Fresno is an option — it’d probably be Eli Whiteside, since Steve Holm was demoted last week and has to stay put for at least 10 days — yet neither Bochy nor general manager Brian Sabean indicated that this would happen soon.

***** 

More stuff from general manager Brian Sabean, who spoke Saturday with reporters covering the Giants (a main story is on the website):

On closer Brian Wilson, who has lost three of his last five outings while compiling a 12.28 ERA: “[He has] had some trials and tribulations, but that’s going to be natural; He’s still cutting his teeth doing that job.”

On the team in general, other than its lousy hitting: “I like the effort and I like the fact that we’re doing two things you have to do to compete, and that’s pitch and play defense.”

When asked if he has seen enough of first baseman Travis Ishikawa to evaluate him fully: “I don’t think so. … With him it’s consistency. We’ve seen him have some really good at-bats against some really good pitching and then just the opposite. In his case, while we really love the defense. … The strikeouts (29 in 93 at-bats entering Saturday) don’t help and the low on-base percentage (.298) doesn’t help.”

On Pablo Sandoval’s progress at third base: “At least in this snapshot, he’s shown that he can play that position and it’s more than making routine plays. He’s much more accomplished than I think we all thought, at least up to this point.”

Finally, Sabean squashed any speculation that he came here to get fired or discuss his job security with managing general partner Bill Neukom, who’s also in town. They did not discuss his job status, said Sabean, whose contract expires after this season. Sabean planned to spend the weekend scouting amateur players for next month’s draft, but decided to see the big club after the excruciating three-game sweep in San Diego.”I don’t want the reputation of not being around when things are a little upside down,” Sabean said. 

– Chris Haft

Sandoval, Uribe to man infield corners? Possibly

LOS ANGELES — Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated Saturday that he soon could employ a lineup featuring Pablo Sandoval at first base and Juan Uribe at third base.

The odd man out would be Travis Ishikawa, who started 20 of San Francisco’s first 29 games at first base. But Ishikawa entered Saturday batting .191 and was hitless in his last 16 at-bats.

By contrast, Sandoval, who rested Saturday after catching the previous evening, was hitting .298. And Uribe, who started his second consecutive game at third base and third game in a row overall, had hiked his average to .289 after collecting two hits in three of his previous five games.

Asked if a Sandoval-Uribe tandem were possible, Bochy replied, “Yes, it’s something we can do. It is an option. It’s something we have talked about.”

Bochy observed that Sandoval, the regular third baseman whose skill set includes playing first base and catching, would need virtually no preparation to play a game at first base, due to his excellent ability to adjust.

San Francisco’s offensive struggles might force Bochy to make this move sooner than later. They certainly explain Uribe’s increased presence.

“That’s why I’ve tried to get him a little more in the mix,” Bochy said. “He gives an added pop in the lineup when he’s in there.”

Bochy has not given up on Ishikawa, though he said somewhat ominously that he hasn’t determined how much longer the Giants will continue to give the 25-year-old rookie opportunities to recover his offensive equilibrium. For the immediate future, Bochy said that he might prolong Ishikawa’s mental break by resting him on Sunday 

“Travis has had his games where he throws out good at-bats and he’s had his games where he’s struggled,” Bochy said. “He’s battling his confidence a little bit.”

– Chris Haft

More from Sunday: Ishikawa explains “4-strike” AB; Winn’s OK

SAN FRANCISCO — Word quickly spread that Travis Ishikawa received four strikes during his ninth-inning at-bat in which he struck out looking. Ishikawa claimed this wasn’t the case, and two others in the press box who are paid to scrutinize each pitch — the official scorer and a game-tracker — supported his explanation.

Differences arose over a pitch that Ishikawa appeared to tip foul. But what apparently happened was that the ball grazed Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta’s glove.

“I never touched it, so I don’t know where the confusion was,” Ishikawa said. “I know I checked my swing, so I wasn’t sure if they called it a strike or if [the Rockies] were going to appeal or not. I asked after the third ball what the count was and he [plate umpire Casey Moser] said 3-0.”

Obviously, however, the umpiring crew wasn’t on the same page at that point.

“I took the next one for a strike,” Ishikawa added, “and that’s when Bill [Hohn] came down from third base [to double-check on the count].”

***

Randy Winn, strained right side and all, pinch-hit in the seventh inning and remained in the game to play left field. After the Giants’ 1-0 victory, Winn insisted he was fine, bolstering manager Bruce Bochy’s hopes that he’d need just a day to heal.

“I felt outstanding when I woke up,” Winn said, “and I feel great right now.”

Winn said this moments after having an ice pack removed from his side as part of his postgame treatment. His tone of voice also indicated that he was being ever-so-slightly humorous. But overall, he seemed sincere, so I’d bet that he’ll be in Monday’s starting lineup.

***

Manager Bruce Bochy on the National League West, now that the Giants have played each division foe:

“Nothing’s changed as far as my impressions,” Bochy said. “Going into this, I think we all felt that L.A. would be the club to beat in this division. But Arizona’s playing well now. That’s not a surprise. They have a lot of talent there. Colorado’s playing better and swinging the bats better. So I see it getting bunched up.”

Meanwhile, Bochy agreed — how could he not? — that the Giants have met expectations by relying on their superior starting pitching.

“I don’t think anything’s changed with how you look at teams within this division,” Bochy repeated.

***

If you felt confident as Rich Aurilia batted in the 10th inning, you weren’t alone. “He’s the best two-strike hitter we’ve got,” a Giants coach said.

Aurilia often will hack early in the count. But with two strikes, he widens his stance, tightens his swing and sharpens his skills.

“My approach changes with two strikes all the time,” said Aurilia, who singled to drive in Steve Holm with the game’s lone run. “I try to use my hands a little bit more and fight off tough pitches until I get one that I can do something with.”

Aurilia works on this technique during batting practice while others are swinging for the fences. No wonder he has stuck around for 14 big-league seasons.

– Chris Haft 

 

Bochy on Lewis, Ishikawa

SAN FRANCISCO — As Dodgers left-hander Eric Stults throws his first pitch of the second inning to the backstop on the fly, I’ll try to readjust my focus to some of the more relevant subjects from Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s pregame address Wednesday.

Bochy addressed the issue of left fielder Fred Lewis, who struck out three times in each of the previous two games. Bochy said that Lewis’ struggles have nothing to do with his elevation to the leadoff spot. Rather, Lewis is having trouble catching up with hard stuff and adjusting to soft stuff — which is a dreadful combination.

“He’s late with his setup and his swing,” Bochy said. “He’s getting caught in between. He’s late on the fastball and out in front on the breaking ball.”

Bochy also noticed a difference in Lewis’ stance. His back was turned slightly more toward the pitcher’s mound. “That may be part of why he’s not seeing the ball as well,” Bochy said.

Lewis improved somewhat in his first two plate appearances Wednesday, flying out to the edge of the warning track and grounding out to shortstop.

Before addressing reporters, Bochy sat at one end of the dugout with Travis Ishikawa, discussing the first baseman’s baserunning from the previous evening. Ishikawa was doubled off third base on Emmanuel Burriss’ line drive, ending the sixth inning.

“We definitely have to improve on the bases,” Bochy said. “This past week’s been a rough one for us.”

If you’re a Giants fan, you would have been encouraged to see a relatively inexperienced player like Ishikawa receive assertive yet constructive feedback directly from the skipper.

– Chris Haft

It’s Ishikawa, not Aurilia, at first base

SAN FRANCISCO — Contrary to what he announced Tuesday, manager Bruce Bochy started Travis Ishikawa at first base instead of Rich Aurilia on Wednesday afternoon against the San Diego Padres.

Bochy’s explanation was simple: He liked what he saw Tuesday night, when Ishikawa went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Keeping his bat in the lineup was the right thing to do, Bochy reasoned.

“This is where, as a manager, you have the right to change your mind,” Bochy said. Of Ishikawa, Bochy said, “He looks like he’s being more selective, yet at the same time when he gets his pitches, he’s letting it go.”

Center fielder Aaron Rowand, bothered by a mild ankle injury, received Wednesday off. This, combined with Thursday’s scheduled off-day, should enable Rowand to rejoin the lineup Friday at Arizona.

Decision near at second base? Just part of the intrigue

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was tempting to derive significance from Emmanuel Burriss’ second consecutive start at second base on Sunday. Previously, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had alternated Burriss and Kevin Frandsen day by day, virtually without fail.

But Bochy declined to say that this meant Burriss, who’s hitting .362, had won the second base tug-of-war with Frandsen, who’s batting .286.

Asked if anything should be read into Burriss’ back-to-back starts, Bochy replied, “Right now, no. I knew with (Pablo) Sandoval down (with a mild left ankle injury) that I was going to split the game at third. Instead of moving Franny from second to third, I was going to give him the back half of the game there.” Frandsen replaced Rich Aurilia, who started his second game of the spring at third base, in the fifth inning.

Still, the Giants’ apparent interest in seeing what Frandsen can do at other positions creates the appearance that Burriss will secure the second base job. If it’s any comfort to Frandsen’s faithful legion of fans, he’d still have a good chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve.

The returns of Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz from Minor League camp constituted another intriguing development. Installing a long reliever in the bullpen would make it easier for the Giants to open the season with an 11-man pitching staff (and keep an additional deserving position player on the roster, such as Frandsen, Andres Torres or Eugenio Velez). The Giants have experimented with their existing bullpen candidates by using them in multiple-inning stints. But Yabu, who often pitched in long relief last year for the Giants, and Ortiz, a former starter, could be better-suited for the role than anyone remaining in big league camp.

Bochy didn’t hide the Giants’ intentions while indicating that either Yabu, who yielded the game’s only run on Richie Weeks’ fifth-inning homer, or Ortiz could return.

“We’re staying open-minded here,” Bochy said. “… It (recalling players during Spring Training who have been sent to the Minors) is not unusual at all. We tell these guys that when you go down there, you’re not out of the picture. If we have the opportunity, we’ll bring you back. They’ve been doing what they need to be doing, and that’s throw the ball well down there.”

This final item isn’t controversial, Earth-shaking or intriguing at all. Just worth mentioning. Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa turned in probably the club’s finest defensive play of the spring when he hurled himself to his right, snared Mike Lamb’s grounder and righted himself in time to flip the ball to Yabu covering first for the out.

Ishikawa looked like the reincarnation of J.T. Snow.

“That’s a highlight play right there,” Bochy said.

Ishikawa, a genuinely modest individual, couldn’t hide his delight.

“Those are the kind that you dream about, feeling like you get full extension and completing the play,” he said. “Offensively, I might not always be there, but (I’ll be) giving my all on defense as well.”

At various times this spring, Ishikawa has benefited from the tutelage of Snow and Will Clark, who made first base the glamorous position that it was when Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey roamed the bag (and the batter’s box) for the Giants. 

“You’ve got two of the better first basemen who ever played,” Ishikawa said, referring to Clark and Snow. “What better first baseman’s dream is that? Two Gold Glove-winning first basemen working with you — it doesn’t get better than that.”

– Chris Haft

 

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