NEW YORK - The Yankees have claimed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers, according to an Orioles official - the exact scenario that the club envisioned while debating what to do with him.
The Orioles didn’t allow Ishikawa to opt out of his contract at Triple-A Norfolk, summoning him to Detroit on June 18 while placing Miguel Gonzalez on paternity leave. They designated him for assignment on June 29 after recalling Jair Jurrjens and tried unsuccessfully to trade him.
The Yankees lost first baseman Mark Teixeira for the season and have been starting Lyle Overbay. The Orioles knew that their division rival would sign Ishikawa, who was 2-for-17 in six games, if exposed to waivers.
Overbay singled in the second inning today after Zoilo Almonte’s leadoff walk, and Eduardo Nunez’s sacrifice fly with one out gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
I followed Nate McLouth to his locker this morning to get his reaction to finishing fifth among American League outfielders in All-Star voting. I had no idea that I was breaking the news to him.
“Yes,” I replied. “You didn’t know that?”
“No,” he said, his eyes widening. “Was Nick (Markakis) fourth?”
“Yes, he was,” I replied.
“My mom must have been busy,” he said. “I didn’t know she had so many e-mail addresses.”
The highlight of my morning.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “The fans in Baltimore were obviously pretty busy. That’s a good feeling.”
It’s also further proof that the Orioles are getting more national recognition after making the playoffs last season.
“That’s pretty cool that they have all three of us in the top five,” McLouth said. “I wonder how many times that’s happened. We’re playing on national TV a lot more now, so that’s probably got something to do with it, but I know the fans in Baltimore had the most to do with it.”
So it wasn’t just McLouth’s mother.
I reminded him to give her a call today and thank her for the support.
“Her fingers are probably sore,” he replied.
Chris Davis modeled his All-Star Game jersey this morning. It’s blue and orange, giving the appearance that he was traded to the Mets.
Davis didn’t know following yesterday’s game that he received the most All-Star votes in the majors, passing Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera during the final week. The news came to him much later.
“The last I heard, he was leading by however many he was ahead and I figured he’d probably run away with it, especially with the year he’s having and the fact that he’s in the running for another Triple Crown,” Davis said.
“It means a lot. I’m honored to know that our fans were out there voting, and everybody across the nation was voting, as well, and I had their support. Anytime you’re doing well, you know your hometown fans are behind you. But to know that other teams are watching, other team’s fans are watching and taking notice, it’s a great honor.”
Update: Nick Markakis is 2-for-2 with a leadoff double in the fourth inning that didn’t result in a run. The Orioles are still behind 1-0.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette commented on Ishikawa signing with the Yankees.
“We picked up (Eric) Thames last week, a left-handed hitter with similar credentials to Ishikawa, as we knew we could lose Ishikawa to another team,” he said. “Thames is starting to swing the bat today in Sarasota. Also, (Alex) Liddi is a good defender and can play first base, as can (Danny) Valencia.”
I wrote a while ago that the Yankees would claim Ishikawa if he opted out of his contract and became a free agent, or if he went on waivers. A few fans questioned why they would do it. Well, they must view him as an upgrade over Overbay or first base insurance, with Teixeira out for the year.