Saturday, October 30, 2010
Will Bruce Bochy turn to 'Smoky' Ishikawa?
At this point it doesn't even seem real important, but Bruce Bochy still hasn't laid out his DH plans for these next three (or two) games:
The Giants will start Pablo Sandoval at designated hitter for Game 3 of the World Series today, but manager Bruce Bochy said he plans to employ more than one player in that slot before the club returns home.
Bochy has hinted strongly that first baseman Travis Ishikawa will get a start in Texas -- probably in Game 4, with Aubrey Huff moving to DH. It would be a prime chance for Ishikawa, who is 2 for 7 off the bench and finished seventh in the NL with a .319 average as a pinch hitter.
Because of those exploits, Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery gave Ishikawa a nickname that stuck earlier this season.
"He's Smoky," said Flannery, a reference to famed pinch hitter Forrest Harrill "Smoky" Burgess. "My uncle Hal Smith played on the Pirates with him, told me all about him. He's a lot like Ishi, too. Off the field, he didn't cuss, smoke or drink -- a very spiritual man.
"And 50 years ago, this guy had huge pinch hits."
Burgess held the major league record for pinch hits before Manny Mota passed him in 1979. Lenny Harris holds the record now.
One, it's not immediately apparent why Sandoval would start Game 3 but not Game 4. In both, the Giants will face a right-handed starting pitcher. Panda, a switch-hitter, has fared better against right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers; in fact, he has fared substantially better against right-handed pitchers than Ishikawa.
But in case you haven't been paying attention, Bruce Bochy is a certifiable genius. If he benches Panda in favor of Smoky in Game 4, you should just assume he's got a perfectly wonderful reason.
Or not. I'm really not inside Bochy's head. Mostly, I just wanted an excuse to mention my delight with a story about the 2010 World Series hinges on a reference to a little fat guy who, half a century ago, was baseball's most famous bench player. Only in this game, my friends. Only in this game.