Giants to use left-field platoon to fill in for Aoki
Ishikawa recalled from Triple-A to be in the mix
SAN FRANCISCO -- Though Brandon Belt received first crack Wednesday at replacing Nori Aoki in left field for the Giants, he'll likely share the position with several others in the coming weeks.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy mentioned Gregor Blanco, Justin Maxwell and Travis Ishikawa, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Sacramento, as others who would have opportunities to fill in for Aoki, who officially went on the disabled list with a fractured right fibula.
"I don't think we're going to have a set left fielder," Bochy said.
Aoki, the valuable leadoff hitter who's batting .317, was injured Saturday when he was hit near his right ankle by a pitch from Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias. For at least the next few weeks, the Giants must function without either of their top corner outfielders, since right fielder Hunter Pence (left wrist tendinitis) won't resume baseball-related activities for another five to seven days. Bochy categorized both as "catalyst-type players."
Bochy added, "This is a big challenge. There's no getting around it. We have to have some guys step it up."
Among them is center fielder Angel Pagan, who will inherit Aoki's leadoff duties. Pagan entered Wednesday's rematch against the San Diego Padres with one extra-base hit in his previous 99 plate appearances. "I think he's been getting off better swings," Bochy said.
When Belt plays left field, as he did Wednesday, Buster Posey's likely to occupy first base, which frees the catching spot for Andrew Susac. Bochy said that he wanted to create more at-bats for Susac, who's 7-for-16 in his last five games.
The Giants plucked Ishikawa from Sacramento for several reasons: He has experience in left field, though he said he hasn't played there this season, and he provides a left-handed-hitting presence off the bench, which San Francisco lacked.
Ishikawa has endured a tumultuous several months. He became a postseason hero when his ninth-inning homer in Game 5 of last year's National League Championship Series against St. Louis sent San Francisco to the World Series. But he began this season on the disabled list with a lower back strain and was designated for assignment on May 25 upon being activated.
However, Ishikawa never considered leaving the organization.
"It was a no-brainer," said the 31-year-old, who hit .271 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 34 games with Sacramento.
He readily admitted that his $1.1 million salary, which he would have forfeited had he fled for another franchise, was too lucrative to spurn. Moreover, he simply had no desire to leave the Giants, whom he rejoined last year after spending almost three years with four organizations.