By all accounts and barring any last minute acquisitions by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Travis Ishikawa could be the ideal platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez — that is, if he ever finds his way into the lineup. Rumor has it that Ishikawa is nursing a minor hamstring injury which has limited his participation so far this Spring to the Black and Gold game last week. He remains listed as day-to-day with discomfort in his right hamstring following his removal from that game.
That being said, if you are Travis Ishikawa and you have a legitimate spot to play for a Major League team (or what the Pirates consider a Major League team), wouldn’t you fight through the hamstring injury so you at least give yourself a chance to make the team? I am sure Clint Hurdle is protecting the team’s asset in Ishikawa, but no one wants to spend any more time in the minors than they have to, especially after they’ve been at the Major League level for any period of time. I suppose it could be most closely likened to flying economy class for a time at the beginning of your career and then receiving an upgrade to business class — you never want to go back to economy after that.
Ishikawa was signed out of free agency to a minor league contract by the Pirates in December 2013. The 30-year-old first baseman was most recently with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees organizations, appearing in six and one game, respectively, during the 2013 season. The rest of the time he was in AAA. A World-Series winner with the San Francisco Giants in 2013, Ishakawa has a lifetime triple slash of .260/.324/.398 in six big league seasons, so at least statistically speaking, he’s the Pirates most proven Major League player behind Sanchez.
Sanchez, a right-handed batter, fares especially well against left-handed pitching, which Ishikawa, a left-handed hitter, would presumably struggle with generally speaking. This would be the primary reason why Ishikawa could be the ideal candidate to platoon with Sanchez. Ishikawa also has the capability to play right field in a pinch, which would alleviate the argument about keeping Lambo because of his utility capabilities.