By Melissa Felkins
You probably heard the news today about Brandon Belt making the Opening Day roster. You also probably saw the sad consequence of it that led to Travis Ishikawa being let go from the team. There is a window where he can be traded or claimed on waivers, but suffice to say, he won’t be suiting up in a Giants uniform tomorrow. The Giants didn’t announce the roster until shortly after today’s game against the A’s, but anyone who was at the game or saw it on television (if it was broadcast) knew what the fate was for Ishikawa. It’s been the same problem and question bouncing around all Spring. There is just not enough room in the inn for everyone we may want on this year’s team. With Rowand’s contract still lingering, chances were it would be Ishikawa or Schierholtz making room for Belt if and when he got called up.
Here’s what I noticed at the game today. Ishikawa knew it before the game.
We all probably did too, but he showed it. His play was pretty lackluster for lack of a better word. When he struck out looking, during his last at bat during the game, you could tell he knew it was his last at bat in a Giants uniform. He dropped his head and slowly walked back to first base. At first I was a little disappointed in his play. I expected more from him, even if he was getting left off the roster. I expected him to give it his best today.
But in the midst of the excitement of Brandon Belt getting his call up, I remembered that while Brandon Belt’s dream was beginning, Travis Ishikawa’s dream was ending. Not that it’s the end of his baseball career. I hope that it’s not. But, and I say this with no offense to Ishikawa whatsoever, the likelihood of him being “great” is low. Really low.
So, after I pondered how I would feel knowing that the team I just won a World Championship with was parting ways with me and in essence, rejecting me for a younger, hotter model, I can’t blame Ishikawa for his play today. His dream is over, barring any major comeback.
However, Ishikawa got to experience something a lot of players don’t. A World Championship. He’s been a steady backup first baseman and pinch hitter the past couple of seasons. He got to be part of an amazing team. But today, reality set in for him, and probably a lot of his teammates. Baseball is still a business. And if you don’t have the skill needed, you don’t get to play (unless of course you were signed to an insanely large contract and your team owners want to get something for their money….ahem, Rowand).
It should come as no surprise to anyone though. I think Ishikawa’s batting average was around .197 for the Spring. I would even venture today the only reason he didn’t cut sooner is because the Giants probably like him and figured if Belt wasn’t ready, they could keep him around a bit longer. But his days were numbered. He had the same opportunity this spring as Brandon Belt and Nate Scheirholtz and he didn’t take advantage of it. Schierholtz has had a pretty good spring and let’s be honest, Nate has something that most of our outfielders don’t have….a cannon for an arm. Travis didn’t have the luxury, so, as sad as it is to say goodbye, he had to go to pave the way for Brandon Belt.
I wish him the best. I hope he gets picked up soon and has a great season and remainder of his career. He’s an excellent first baseman and I’m sure he will be missed in the clubhouse. But, baseball, like all things, is real. Today, it got real.