Shortly after the Giants named Travis Ishikawa as hitting coach for their Rookie-level Arizona League squad, a former teammate of his suggested a handy instructional method.
The ex-player jokingly advised Ishikawa that he could convey whatever he wanted about hitting simply by using a continuous loop to replay video clips of his walk-off home run in Game 5 of San Francisco’s 6-3 victory over St. Louis in the 2014 National League Championship Series. The round-tripper propelled the Giants into the World Series, which they won in seven games over Kansas City.
Ishikawa, 34, recently admitted that, as time passes, fewer strangers stop to ask him about his milestone homer. He still appreciates receiving the opportunity to break the 3-3 tie and, yes, he acknowledged that it could boost his credibility among Giants farmhands.
“Guys know, ‘He came through in a big situation. He ought to know what he’s talking about,'” said Ishikawa, who forged Giants history by connecting with Michael Wacha’s 2-0 fastball.
Moreover, Ishikawa’s homer truly was an example of solid hitting, as replays plainly illustrate. He was relaxed but ready. His swing was quick to the ball and tension-free. It looked as if Ishikawa was trying to do anything but clobber the pitch as far as he did.
It was the highlight of Ishikawa’s Major League career, which spanned eight seasons (2006, ’08-10, ’12-15). The left-handed batter slashed .255/.321/.391 with 23 home runs and 137 RBIs in 488 games, including 334 with the Giants.
Panik’s bump in pay is considerable, with the infielder reportedly set to take home $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration. He earned $600,000 last season, hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in 138 games.
Smith’s 2018 contract is worth $2.5 million, per a report from USA Today. Financial details were not immediately available for all of the players following Friday’s 10 a.m. PT deadline.
The Giants will keep busy in the weeks ahead, with work still to be done to augment the outfield. The club could also make changes to its pitching staff ahead of Spring Training.
That reflects the mindset of an operation that wants to win now. The Giants’ key offseason acquisitions also convey that attitude.
San Francisco’s new faces are weathered by experience and success. Third baseman Evan Longoria finished among the top 20 in American League MVP voting six times in 10 seasons with the Rays. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP Award in 2013 and was named an All-Star five times in nine seasons with the Pirates. Outfielder Austin Jackson has played in the postseason during five of his eight years in the Majors.
“It’s like any year. We’re dependent on good health,” Evans said. “But we’re also pleased about the additions to our lineup. We think they’ll lengthen the lineup.”
They’ll join a projected lineup that includes All-Stars at five other positions (first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik, shortstop Brandon Crawford, left fielder Hunter Pence and catcher Posey). When the aforementioned players start along with pitchers Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija, the Giants’ lineup will consist entirely of All-Stars, except for Jackson.
“There’ll be no automatic outs in that lineup,” Evans said, “at this point.”