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Originally published Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 8:04 PM

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Padres catcher Nick Hundley has fond memories of Seattle

Former Lake Washington High star Nick Hundley, whose dad was Washington's defensive coordinator, still considers Seattle home.

Seattle Times baseball reporter

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PEORIA, Ariz. — Many of Nick Hundley's fondest sports memories occurred at Husky Stadium, where his dad, Tim, was Washington's defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003.

"We lived for those Saturdays," he said. "I rooted for the Huskies as hard as I've ever rooted for anybody."

Hundley's sport is baseball now, and he stands to be the San Diego Padres' everyday catcher after a strong season in which he hit .288 with nine homers in 82 games, while throwing out 36 percent of runners trying to steal.

Hundley, who attended Eastside Catholic High School in Bellevue briefly before finishing up at Lake Washington in Kirkland, wound up playing his collegiate baseball for Arizona. But he still has a soft spot for the UW — and for the beleaguered coach, Rick Neuheisel, with whom his dad has long been closely associated.

"The way it turned out, obviously, you don't plan on those things, but you live with the mistakes, you learn from stuff, and you move on," he said. "I've known Coach (Neuheisel) for a long time. He's been great to me and my family. We used to go over to his house when he wasn't there and ride his Jet Skis on Lake Washington. He said come over any time. We used to go hang out. He's great."

With a football coach as a father, the Hundleys had a nomadic existence. Nick was born in Corvallis, Ore., while Tim Hundley coached at Oregon State. During his childhood, his dad also had stints at UCLA and Colorado before landing at Washington in the early, heady days with Neuheisel.

"I love that stadium, that atmosphere up there," Nick said. "For those four or five years, it's pretty much what I lived for. Tui (quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo) was there. What a stud. I remember watching him play, watching them beat Drew Brees and Purdue in the Rose Bowl, watching them beat Miami when Miami had 10 first-rounders every year. Those were some great memories."

But even as he was living and dying with Husky football, Hundley's talents emerged on the baseball diamond. He raves about now-retired Lake Washington coach Dave Chambers ("he was awesome") and remembers countless nights taking batting practice at the Newport High School cages in Bellevue.

"That was our thing. My dad would throw batting practice to me and my brother (Jake)," he said. "We did football a little, but we'd hit, go throw."

After starring at Lake Washington, Nick was drafted in the fifth round by the Marlins in 2002. But he opted for Arizona, despite interest from the Huskies baseball program while his dad was still coaching there.

"I liked Washington, but there's really no allegiance," he said. "My dad's been at so many different schools. I didn't want to go there just because my dad was there. I knew that could change at any time. I wanted to go to the place that was right for me, and that was Arizona."

Sure enough, his dad left Washington after 2003 and has since coached at UTEP under Mike Price, at Southern Methodist under June Jones, and for the past three seasons under Neuheisel at UCLA. Last week, he was hired by UNLV coach Bobby Hauck as linebackers coach.

Nick Hundley, meanwhile, was drafted in the second round by the Padres in 2005. Now 28, he cracked the majors in 2008 and is poised for the most prominent role of his career.

Ask him where he considers himself to be "from," and Nick Hundley doesn't hesitate.

"I always say Seattle, just because it's the last place I lived before college," he said. "I love it up there. When it's nice up there, it's the nicest place I've ever been."

Especially on Saturdays afternoons in autumn.

Ishikawa gets

chance with Brewers

A high-school contemporary of Hundley's, Travis Ishikawa, is trying to make the Milwaukee Brewers' roster out of spring training after spending his entire career with San Francisco and winning a World Series ring in 2010.

Ishikawa, who starred at Federal Way High School, may have gotten an opening when Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart went down with knee surgery. Ishikawa has been dabbling in the outfield, a position he didn't begin playing seriously until last year in the minors. He could win a utility job as Mat Gamel's backup at first base as well as an outfield fill-in.

"I tell everybody I don't think I'm going to win any Gold Gloves out there," Ishikawa told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "But I definitely feel like I can make all the plays I need to make to help the club win."

In fact, Ishikawa, a left-hander, joked that he's willing to do anything to show Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke his versatility.

"That's why I've got a shortstop glove in my bag — just in case Ron ever needs me over there," he told the Journal-Sentinel.

Giolito injury

shakes draft

The Mariners pick third in this year's June draft, the fifth time in eight years they will have a top-five pick. The draft world received a major jolt this past week with news out of Southern California that right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, the consensus top high-school pitching prospect in the draft, sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow Tuesday.

He'll be sidelined for six to 10 weeks, and his coach at Harvard-Westlake High in Studio City, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times, "He's probably done for the season."

Giolito is 6 feet 6, 230 pounds and has signed with UCLA, but he stood to be a very high draft pick. In fact, Baseball America and ESPN's Keith Law ranked him as the No. 2 prospect in the draft. Some believe he was a special talent who could have gone No. 1 overall. Giolito had caused excitement last week, in his season debut, by reaching 100 mph on the radar gun.

Giolito's injury hit home with new White Sox manger Robin Ventura, who spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Arroyo Grande High School. In the second round of sectionals, Arroyo Grande lost 1-0 to Harvard-Westlake, with Giolito striking out 12.

"He's as good as advertised," Ventura told the Chicago Tribune. "He can hit 95, has control and a changeup. He had everything that day. I'd be very careful (with his recovery), just because he's that good."

Ventura added, "He probably should be the first pick. I haven't seen any players, but he definitely would be in the top three if I'm looking at people."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @StoneLarry


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