SAN FRANCISCO -- Four seasons ago, Travis Ishikawa drew one of the most important walks in Giants history.
Now he's moseying back to the organization. The Giants have signed Ishikawa to a minor league contract and he's expected to play first base at Triple-A Fresno, as MLBTradeRumors.com first reported. Ishikawa, 30, became a free agent on Wednesday after the Pirates outrighted him off the 40-man roster. He had made Pittsburgh's club this spring but the team recently acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Mets.
Ishikawa, 30, was part of the Giants organization from the 2002 draft until 2012, when he left as a six-year minor league free agent. Nicknamed "Smokey" because of his success as a pinch hitter along with his quiet and devout personality by third base coach Tim Flannery, Ishikawa drew a huge pinch walk with two outs in the ninth inning in Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS at Atlanta. Ishikawa ended up scoring the tying run as the Giants came back to win the game and the series.
Ishikawa, a native of Washington state, had spent time with the Brewers, Orioles and Yankees organizations before joining the Pirates. The Giants have need of a first baseman at Fresno because Mark Minicozzi separated his shoulder while sliding into second base and is on the DL.
The Giants don't have a lot of left-handed bench options on the big league roster but Ishikawa would have to be added to the 40-man first, so a call-up probably won't happen anytime soon. Still, he's a known commodity and a nice insurance policy to have.