06/29/10 9:44 PM ET
Double plays turning into 'epidemic' for Giants
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
In pinch, Giants have go-to guys off bench
SAN FRANCISCO -- Travis Ishikawa was once one of those players who hated pinch-hitting. Now, he's the best in the business.Ishikawa -- 9-for-17 (.529) as a pinch-hitter -- and Nate Schierholtz -- 5-for-10 in the same role -- are the Majors' top two pinch-hitters and a huge reason why the Giants lead all teams with a .333 average (28-for-84) in pinch situations. "Ninety percent of it is you've go to believe," Ishikawa said of a pinch-hitter's mind-set. "Everybody says pinch-hitting's tough ... and I always believed in the same thing. ... But when your opportunities are limited in the year, you want to make the most of what you've got and that's what I've been trying to do." Ishikawa and Schierholtz both said luck has a lot to do with pinch-hit success, but there's no question their numbers are a byproduct of their hard work. Because each game and situation is different, the two players can't have a set daily schedule, but have laid out a basic routine. After getting loose in the middle innings -- usually starting after the pitcher's first turn through the lineup -- Ishikawa and Schierholtz said they like to hit in the cage off the pitching machine. Ishikawa said he tries to put the machine's speed between 85 and 90 mph and move to as close as 25 feet in front of the machine so, once he gets out there, "if the guy's throwing 95 it doesn't look like it's 110; it actually looks like it's 95 or, if I'm feeling good that day, maybe a little slower." Although the two homegrown players said they still believe they have a future as everyday players in the Majors, Ishikawa said, at least for this season, one of his goals is to dominate in his newfound niche. "I don't want to say I'm a numbers guy, but before the season, no matter what role they have me at, I want to be the best at it," Ishikawa said of being the league's top pinch-hitter. "If I'm going be the pinch-hitter for the year, then I want to strive to be the best pinch-hitter I can be."
Posey gets second consecutive day of rest
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the second straight day, Buster Posey wasn't in the Giants' starting lineup, but manager Bruce Bochy said it was simply another day off for the first baseman/catcher."He'll be back in there [Wednesday]," Bochy said. "We're trying to mix [the infield] up. He's going to be catching a little bit more, and we just wanted to give him a day." Since hitting .429 (21-for-49) in his first 13 games, Posey has been mired in a slump, hitting .140 (6-for-43) in his past 12 games, including a pinch-hit strikeout Monday night. During San Francisco's series in Houston last week, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Posey had been dealing with a sore left wrist. Although Posey acknowledged his left has been sore for the past year and a half "just from playing every day," he said the wrist is a "non-issue." "It's nothing," Posey said. "I have no idea where that came from."
Pablo Sandoval returned to the third spot in the Giants' lineup Tuesday for the first time since June 9. "More than anything, it lengthens the lineup up a little bit," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think Pablo has been swinging well from the left side and I liked the swings he took [Monday] and we need to get rolling offensively again." ... Tuesday's lineup was the 57th different one used by the Giants this season, fourth most in the National League. ... Bengie Molina has thrown out nine of his pat 20 attempted basestealers after having thrown out only three of the previous 37. ... MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo tweeted Tuesday that Giants' 2009 first-round Draft pick Zack Wheeler will replace Detroit's Andy Oliver in the XM Futures Game on July 11 in Anaheim. Wheeler, a 20-year-old right-hander, is 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA in seven starts for Class A Augusta. He has been on the disabled list since mid-May with a cracked fingernail on the middle finger of his right hand.
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.