PHOENIX -- What a difference a year makes. On the last day of Spring Training 2011, Travis Ishikawa, a veteran of four seasons who had appeared in the 2010 World Series with the Giants, found himself the last man cut from the big league roster.
"I was the odd man out," Ishikawa said Wednesday. "At the time it happened, I was real upset, disappointed, discouraged. Going to the Minor Leagues after being in the big leagues a couple years was tough, very hard. Then I hurt my shoulder on top of it and missed the last half of the season. I look back on it now and I think of it as just a huge blessing, because I'm so much happier here."
Those good vibrations came as Ishikawa learned he was the last man named to the Brewers' roster, as the club finalized its 25-man squad for Opening Day Tuesday night. Ishikawa will back up first baseman Mat Gamel, while also serving as a go-to left-handed bat off the bench.
"[Pinch-hitting] was the only way I got on the field in 2010, pretty much," Ishikawa said. "I definitely know I can do it. If this is what is needed for me to be able to help the club, I'm ready for it."
It's possible Ishikawa could be called on as defensive replacement for Gamel if the Brewers want to put his plus mitt to use late in games, but manager Ron Roenicke has been happy with what he's seen from Gamel at first.
"I'd rather not do too much of it, but we'll see how it goes," Roenicke said. "I don't think we're going to need to, to tell you the truth. When there's opportunities to make double switches, [Ishikawa's] a possibility. But when you look at the double switches in our lineup, there's not too many guys I'd like to take out."
Ishikawa shared his manager's confidence in Gamel, noting he's happy to offer advice when needed, noting the goal is "getting this team to the World Series and winning it all."