River Cats have revolving door

Hunter Bishop had two singles Sunday to boost his batting average to .276.

Hunter Bishop is getting to know his two new neighbors in the Sacramento River Cats clubhouse at Sutter Health Park. Pitcher Nick Garcia joined the San Francisco Giants’ Triple A team from the Double A Richmond (Va) Flying Squirrels on May 28. Catcher Jackson Reetz followed May 31 after being designated for assignment by the Giants and accepting the move to Sacramento when he cleared waivers.

This is Bishop’s first stint in Sacramento after arriving from Richmond on May 14. The outfielder has already learned that lockers are leased without an option to buy. The Giants are again playing a game of musical roster spots, so it is unlikely that Bishop will have the same two neighbors for the remainder of the season.

Bishop could be the player to move out if the Giants suddenly have a need for the 2019 first-round draft pick or if he could use further seasoning at Richmond. He has made it to Sacramento despite missing last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Injuries limited Bishop to 134 games in his first three seasons.

That may explain why Bishop and his wife Claudia are staying in a hotel instead of renting an apartment in Sacramento. Claudia is the daughter of former NHL star Claude Lemieux. Her father played for six teams in his 21-year career, so Claudia realizes her husband’s stay in Sacramento could be for weeks or end tomorrow.

As long as Bishop has a locker in Sacramento, he will play for the present rather than think of what the future might hold. His brother Braden , who was also an outfielder, was a frequent passenger on the baseball elevator during his eight-year career. He spent an entire season with one team only twice. His major-league career consisted of just 47 games over three seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

Hunter Bishop gets a fist bump from Rob Riggins, the River Cats assistant hitting coach, before taking the field on Sunday.

“It’s really cool to see guys go up, but it’s not fun to see guys come back. I didn’t know how frequent it was,” said Bishop, who will turn 26 on Tuesday. “My brother did that, so I can remember mentally how it took a toll on him. Like they say, it’s hard to make it (to the major leagues) and even harder to stay. With a team like the Giants, there’s so many moving parts. I don’t know if other organizations are like that.”

Those parts have been on the move in June with the Giants making at least one transaction on 15 of the first 22 days. There were five on Saturday. Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski and pitcher Keaton Winn were placed on the injured list, outfiielder Luis Matos and third baseman David Villar were recalled from the River Cats and Tyler Fitzgerald was optioned to Sacramento just a day after being recalled.

Bishop has been a fixture in Sacramento’s lineup, starting in 18 of 20 games this month. He has played each of the three outfield positions in June with 11 starts in center, three in right and two in left. He has also been the designated hitter in two games. Bishop has batted as high as leadoff and as low as sixth this month.

Four consecutive games in the leadoff spot got Bishop back on track at the plate. He went 9-for-15 with three doubles, a home run, three RBI and seven runs scored against the Albuqeurque Isotopes. His batting average went from .246 on June 4 to .309 on June 8. He attributed his surge to seeing more fastballs in the leadoff spot.

Bishop’s average dipped in the past seven games with a 4-for-27 slump leaving him at .276.. He went 2-for-5 with two infield singles in Sunday’s 5-4 victory over Round Rock. Bishop is not one to fret about his numbers because “there’s going to be really bad games and there’s going to be really good games. It’s about how you can close the gap by making the bad games average and the good games great.”

The Giants drafted Bishop with the 10th overall pick in 2019 after he batted .342 with 22 homers and 63 RBI in 57 games as a junior at Arizona State. He has just two more homers than that in 191 minor-league games, including four in 32 games with the River Cats. And one of those four was of the inside-the-park variety that produced two runs for Sacramento in a 4-1 victory over Oklahoma City on May 15.

First baseman Trenton Brooks scored on the homer, which snapped a seventh-inning tie, and also came home on a Bishop single in the fourth. Bishop could not have been happier when Brooks joined the Giants and made his major-league debut May 28. Brooks made it after being a 17th-round pick ( 512th overall) in 2016.

For as long as Bishop stays in Sacramento, he hopes Brooks never comes back.