Lambo optioned; Ishikawa makes case to stick with Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. — Travis Ishikawa did not make a good first impression with the Pirates.
Ishikawa, who's in spring training camp on a minor league contract, tweaked his hamstring on the first play of the intrasquad scrimmage Feb. 25. The injury kept him out of action for nearly two weeks.
“Catching it early and not being stupid and trying to play through it was important,” Ishikawa said. “It was just a matter of trying to stay positive and staying focused on the goal.”
While Ishikawa sat, Andrew Lambo had a chance to take charge in the competition for the backup first base job. Lambo blew that chance.
Lambo had two hits in the first Grapefruit League game, then did not get another until nine games later. When Ishikawa finally was ready to play, he homered three times in a seven-game span.
Lambo was optioned on Tuesday to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he will begin the season as the everyday first baseman.
Barring a trade or free agent acquisition in the next few days, Ishikawa will be with the Pirates on Opening Day.
The deadline to finalize the 25-man active roster is 3 p.m. Sunday. The Pirates first would have to make a move to get Ishikawa on the 40-man roster.
“If that's where we end up, we'll be comfortable with that,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Travis had a nice spring. He gives you a professional at-bat and handles himself well around the base.”
Ishikawa, 30, has played six seasons in the majors but only twice has appeared in more than 95 games. He's a career .260 hitter with 19 home runs.
The Pirates brought Ishikawa to camp thinking he also could provide depth in the outfield. But after he hurt his hamstring in right field during the scrimmage, Ishikawa has been used exclusively at first base in games.
“I've been chasing fly balls in right field in batting practice, and it's felt good,” Ishikawa said. “If they need me there, I'll be ready for it.”
Ishikawa bats left-handed. Gaby Sanchez, a right-handed hitter, is expected to be the de facto starter at first base.
Lambo, 25, caught management's attention by clubbing 32 homers in the minors last season and was given every chance to win a roster spot this spring. But Lambo batted .095 with a .269 on-base plus slugging percentage, and none of his four hits went for extra bases.
“The results weren't there,” Huntington said. “He faced a lot of fastball-count offspeed pitches.”
A natural outfielder, Lambo made strides picking up the nuances of playing first base. But it required a lot of extra time spent in fielding drills, and Huntington said the pressure might have been overwhelming.
“We asked him to tackle a new position and compete to make a major league team at the same time,” Huntington said. “We threw a lot at him. Sometimes guys try to do too much. It seems that certainly was the case with Andrew this spring. We still believe in him.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Pirates to end spring in Philadelphia again, sign Stinson to minor league deal
- Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister named Rangers manager
- Pirates organization to continue pursuing value free agents in offseason