Results tagged ‘ Tsuyoshi Nishioka ’

Twins grant Nishioka his unconditional release

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka are parting ways, as the club granted him his unconditional release on Friday.

In a rare move by a player, Nishioka approached the Twins about the move and is walking away from the rest of his contract. The Twins are not responsible for the $3 million he’s owed next season or the $250,000 buyout for ’14 as part of his $4 million club option.

“I would like to thank the Twins organization for helping me fulfill my dream of playing in Major League Baseball,” Nishioka said in a statement. “I take full responsibility for my performance which was below my own expectations. At this time, I have made the decision that it is time to part ways. I have no regrets and know that only through struggle can a person grow stronger. I appreciate all the support the team and the fans in Minnesota and Rochester have shown me. Arigatou gozaimasu.”

Nishioka, 28, struggled with the Twins since signing a three-year deal worth $9.25 after the Twins won the negotiating rights to sign him with a $5.3 million bid in ’10.

He hit just .226/.278/.249 with five doubles in 68 games last year, as he missed more than two months after breaking his left leg in a collision at second base in just the sixth game of the season.

Nishioka came into this season fighting for a spot on the roster but was sent to Triple-A Rochester in the first round of cuts in Spring Training.

After hitting .245 in 84 games with the Red Wings, Nishioka was given another chance with the Twins, when he was called up on Aug. 5.

But Nishioka lasted just three games with the Twins before being sent back down, as he went 0-for-12 with several miscues in the field at second base. He was later outrighted on Aug. 20 and was removed from the 40-man roster

It was a disappointing two years for Nishioka, who excelled in Japan. The switch-hitter was a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner with the Chiba Lotte Marines before signing with the Twins.

Twins outright Blackburn, Nishioka

OAKLAND — The Twins outrighted struggling right-hander Nick Blackburn to Triple-A Rochester, and will recall a starting pitcher on Tuesday — likely Liam Hendriks — to start on Wednesday against the A’s. In addition Minnesota also outrighted infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who will remain on the Rochester roster.

Blackburn was removed from the 40-man roster after having a rough time with the Twins, posting a 7.39 ERA in 19 outings. His last start came Friday, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.

He’ll be a starter in Rochester, and Twins assistant general Rob Antony said Blackburn will have to pitch well to be back up with the club again this season, as he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.

“I talked to Nick today, let him know and told him, ‘Go down there, try and get straightened out and when September comes we’ll evaluate the situation,’” Antony said. “There’s no guarantees he’ll come back. We could select him and bring him back if we want, or he could not be back this year — whatever we think is the right situation when the time comes.”

Blackburn is still owed $5.5 million next season, and will have to earn a spot with the club, according to Antony.

“As far as next year goes, he’s still a member of our organization,” Antony said. “I suspect, unless we trade him in the offseason, he’ll be back in spring training trying to win a job on the club.”

With Blackburn out, the Twins need a starter for Wednesday, and it’s expected to be Hendriks, who last pitched for Rochester on Friday. The 23-year-old right-hander has been impressive with the Red Wings with a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts but it hasn’t translated with the Twins, as evidenced by his career 6.71 ERA in 12 outings.

Nishioka, who is also owed $3 million next year, struggled in three games with the Twins this year, going 0-for-12 with two errors and several other misplays in the field.

“I’m sure it’s a pride thing for any player,” Antony said. “No. 1, it’s tough to be in the minor leagues; but No. 2, when you’re taken off the major league roster and 29 other clubs pass on you, it tells you you’re not doing very well.”

The team now has 38 players on its 40-man roster.

Terry Ryan talks Nishioka, Plouffe

MINNEAPOLIS — Despite his struggles in his first three games of the season against the Indians, second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be in uniform on Friday against the Rays, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Thursday.

Nishioka had a series to forget, as he made three errors in the infield — while also letting a pop-up drop in front of him on Wednesday — while going 0-for-12 at the plate. He flew back to Rochester to get his things after Wednesday’s game but won’t be optioned to Triple-A Rochester before Friday.

With Trevor Plouffe still on the disabled list with a bruised right thumb, Ryan said that the Twins will stick with Nishioka for now.

“He had a very difficult game yesterday and we all saw it but the only way to find out how he’ll respond up here is to play him,” Ryan said. “It didn’t to go so well so now we’ll have a decision to make once Plouffe is healthy and ready to come off. So we’ll see how Plouffe responds in the next few days and go from there.”

Plouffe, on the disabled list retroactive to July 21 with a bruised right thumb, is set to take batting practice on Thursday and Friday. There’s a chance he could rejoin the Twins this weekend, but Ryan indicated Plouffe could go on a rehab assignment.

“He’ll swing the bat tomorrow and we’ll make the decision on whether he’ll need a rehab assignment tomorrow or not,” Ryan said. “I thinking he may he might have to go out but I don’t want to make that decision until we see him the next couple of days.”

Nishioka optioned to Triple-A; lineup vs. Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins made a slew of roster cuts this morning with the most notable being the decision to option infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Triple-A Rochester.

Nishioka, 27, hit .240/.269/.320 in nine games this spring, but never looked comfortable at the plate or in the field.

The decision to option Nishioka this early in camp is somewhat of a surprise, especially given the fact that he’s in the second year of a three-year deal worth $9.25 million.

Nishioka, though, took the demotion in stride, saying he plans on working hard to get another chance with the Twins.

“It’s definitely tough to swallow but it’s not like it’s getting baseball taken away from me,” Nishioka said through translator Ryo Shinkawa. “I came from Japan for a challenge at this in this country. So I’m just going to not give up and look for the opportunity to get back up here.”

Asked what he was told by manager Ron Gardenhire to work on down in the Minors, Nishioka said, “To slow the game down and be back to my old self when I was playing in Japan.”

Nishioka was a five-time All-Star in Japan and won a batting title in his last season there in ’10 while helping lead the Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series title.

But he struggled last season with the Twins, hitting just .226/.278/.249 with five doubles in 68 games. He also made 12 errors in the field, including 10 at shortstop and two at second base.

He was bothered by injuries, as he suffered a broken left fibula when the Yankees’ Nick Swisher slid into him while trying to break up a double play at second base on April 7 that forced him to miss 59 games. He also missed time late in the year with a strained right oblique, and played in his last game of the season on Sept. 9 as a result.

Other Twins optioned to Triple-A Rochester this morning included reliever Carlos Gutierrez and outfielder Rene Tosoni. Those reassigned to Minor League camp were relievers Jason Bulger, Luis Perdomo, Daryl Thompson, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters; catchers Chris Herrmann and Dan Rohlfing; infielder Aaron Bates and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez.

Twins (10-8):
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Ryan Doumit, C
8. Ben Revere, LF
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

RHP Jason Marquis

Twins reserves: J.R. Towles, Danny Lehmann, Joe Benson, Matt Carson, Brian Dinkelman, Chris Parmelee, Sean Burroughs

Twins pitchers: Terry Doyle, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship, Kyle Waldrop, Jared Burton, Anthony Swarzak

Game 18: Twins vs. Pirates lineups

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After a few days off to celebrate my 26th birthday, I’m back covering the Twins today against the Pirates.

The Twins hosted a “B” game against the Pirates this morning on one of the practice fields at the Lee County Sports Complex, and lost 3-2 in eight innings.

Matt Capps tossed two innings for the first time this spring, and didn’t allow a run, giving up only a double over two innings. He also struck out two.

Left-hander Glen Perkins surrendered a run in his one inning of work before giving way to Brendan Wise, who threw two perfect innings.

A few Twins Minor League pitchers saw action including Brad Thompson and Daniel Turpen. Thompson left early after being struck on the wrist by a line drive but was OK. Turpen, acquired in the trade that sent Kevin Slowey to Colorado, allowed one hit and struck out two in one inning.

On the offensive side, Sean Burroughs and Matt Carson both doubled. Ryan Doumit and Tsuyoshi Nishioka also singled for the Twins.

Twins (9-8)
1. Alexi Casilla, 2B
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Trevor Plouffe, LF
8. Aaron Bates, 1B
9. Joe Benson, CF

LHP Francisco Liriano

Twins reserves: Rene Rivera, Danny Lehmann, Ray Chang, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, Ben Revere, Denard Span

Twins pitchers: Jeff Gray, Casey Fien, Luis Perdomo, Kyle Waldrop

Pirates (6-8)
1. Alex Presley, LF
2. Clint Barmes, SS
3. Jose Tabata, RF
4. Casey McGehee, 3B
5. Neil Walker, 2B
6. Jake Fox, 1B
7. Nate McLouth, CF
8. Michael McKenry, C
9. Charlie Morton, RHP

Game 12: Liriano, Burnett struggle in loss

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Left-hander Francisco Liriano allowed four runs over three innings, and the Twins managed just five hits in an 8-2 loss to the split-squad Blue Jays at Hammond Stadium.

The loss dropped the Twins to 6-6 in Grapefruit League play. They travel to Clearwater on Wednesday to face the Phillies and ace Roy Halladay.

What went right: Relievers Kyle Waldrop, Jared Burton and Matt Maloney kept their ERAs at 0.00, as they combined to retire all 10 batters they faced.

Waldrop threw a perfect fourth inning with a strikeout before Burton tossed a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts. Maloney struck out Anthony Gose to end the sixth before retiring the side in order in the seventh with two more strikeouts.

The three pitchers have combined to throw 12 1/3 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts and two walks allowed so far in Grapefruit League action.

It’s still early, but all three have made a strong case to join the bullpen out of camp with their impressive results.

Burton — the only non-roster invite of the three — remains the most likely to make the club given his success as a setup reliever with the Reds before injuries plagued him the last few seasons.

Maloney, who has experience as a starter, is a candidate to be a long reliever. He’s also a left-hander, and even though fellow left-handers Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing are locks to make the roster, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he has no problems having three lefties in the bullpen.

Gardenhire also gave Waldrop his full vote of confidence, saying that he believes that the sinkerballer is Major League ready.

The offense didn’t do much on the afternoon, but Joe Mauer went 2-for-3 with a run scored after being hitless over his previous four games. Luke Hughes also played all nine innings at second base and went 1-for-3. Trevor Plouffe and Steve Pearce picked up RBI singles in the sixth.

What went wrong: Liriano cruised through the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third inning.

He loaded the bases with nobody out, and ended up allowing back-to-back doubles to Travis Snider and Travis d’Arnaud with one out. The one positive was that he didn’t walk a batter and struck out five, but he also plunked Mike McCoy in the third and struggled with his command that inning.

Reliever Alex Burnett continued his struggles, allowing four runs on five hits and a balk while recording just two outs in the sixth inning.

Burnett, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, hasn’t helped himself much this spring with a 16.80 ERA in 2 2/3 innings. He also struggled in a “B” game against the Pirates on Sunday.

What they said: “It was one of those games where there wasn’t a lot of movement on our side,” Gardenhire said. “We got behind early and played a little bit too much defense with not enough offense.”

What’s next: Right-hander Jason Marquis is set to make his third Grapefruit League start on Wednesday against the Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT at Bright House Field. Marquis has allowed five runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings so far this spring. Brian Duensing, Jeff Manship, Esmerling Vasquez, Luis Perdomo, Jeff Gray and Aaron Thompson are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Phillies ace Roy Halladay starts for Philadelphia.

Injury update: Center fielder Denard Span missed his second straight game with neck stiffness. But he took batting practice without any issues and is expected to make the trip to Clearwater on Wednesday. … Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka was held out of the lineup for the second straight day with sprained left pinkie. Nishioka, though, is expected to start at shortstop against the Phillies. … Infielder Steve Pearce left Tuesday’s game with a strained right calf and is day to day.

Bobby Valentine on Nishioka

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had some interesting things to say about infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka today.

Valentine was Nishioka’s manager in Japan for six years (2004-09) with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Here’s what he had to say about Nishioka, who struggled in his first season with the Twins last year, as he played in just 68 games because of injuries, including a broken left leg suffered on April 7 when Nick Swisher tried to break up a double play at second base:

“You know, I had him as a baby in Japan. I had him where he was one of the worst players on the field and had him when he was one of the best players on the field. And sometimes it was in the same season.

“I came to Fort Myers last year to have dinner with him, to tell him they were going to try and break his leg and show him how to try and get out of the way, because he didn’t do that in Japan when he played second base for me his first year. I actually got up and showed him where he had to be on that double play because in Japan you don’t have to worry about the inside side slide, only the outside slide. A guy comes inside and rolls he had to be out of the way and he gave me the old – as he did as a player for me – yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand. I understand. I understand. And he broke his leg.”

Day 5: Position players report

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Workouts started early and players quickly filed out of the clubhouse before noon, as today was the club’s annual golf tournament.

The big news was the arrival of first baseman Justin Morneau. But Morneau only showed up to drop his stuff off in his locker, and said he plans to meet with the media tomorrow.

With Morneau in camp, only Oswaldo Arcia and Pedro Florimon have yet to show before tomorrow’s first official workout for position players. It was wrongly assumed by reporters that Florimon was already in camp, but general manager Terry Ryan said he expects him to be here in time for tomorrow’s 8:30 a.m. meeting.

In other news, Tsuyoshi Nishioka met with the media and had some interesting things to say about the upcoming season. And Ryan indicated that Nishioka could see some time at third base this spring to prepare for a utility role. For more details on that, check out the notebook that will be officially posted later today.

The Twins also added catching prospect Danny Rams to big league camp, giving them nine catchers on the roster. Ryan said the move was done because there are so many pitchers in camp.

Ryan also said the club scheduled two more “B” games. The Twins, who already scheduled one with the Red Sox for 1 p.m. ET on March 1 at Hammond Stadium, added another against the Red Sox at 10 a.m. on March 7 at Hammond Stadium and one against the Pirates at 10 a.m. on March 10 in Bradenton.

Other notes from today:

- Luke Hughes continues to progress after getting a cortisone shot in his right shoulder. He’ll be out of action for a more days before working out with the team next week.

- Ron Gardenhire worked with Alexi Casilla and Brian Dozier on the practice field today. Says he likes Dozier’s defense but he’s trying to help him slow down a little bit.

- Ryan Doumit is expected to catch fly balls in the outfield and play some first base during drills this spring. Joe Mauer is also scheduled to see some practice time at first.

- Gardenhire had this to say about his former Mets teammate Gary Carter, who passed away last week after a bout with brain cancer: “He played like a little kid. He enjoyed the heck out of it. He was a hustle guy, always hustled. Liked the cameras. He liked the cameras. He was perfect for New York. He had that big smile on his face. We used to tease him all the time. He did the milk commercials. It was perfect for him. He should be doing milk commercials. Dipping an Oreo cookie into it, too. Great guy. Treated everybody like he knew you forever. Treated me like a king. Didn’t matter if you were No. 1 on the team or No. 25 on the team. He treated everybody the same and always had a smile. Very intense when he caught. Wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the other team. Defended his pitchers and defended his team and also was a pretty good player.”

Casilla to the DL (Game 105 vs. Texas)

ARLINGTON — The Twins received a blow to their middle infield today, as second baseman Alexi Casilla was diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and is expected to be out for two to three weeks, according to head trainer Rick McWane.

Casilla, who injured himself while legging out a double in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 7-2 win against the Rangers, is scheduled to be placed on the disabled list after tonight’s game. Infielder Luke Hughes is expected to be recalled in his place.

Additionally, to bolster their middle infield depth, the Twins recalled second baseman Matt Tolbert from Triple-A Rochester, and optioned left-hander Chuck James to Rochester to give the Twins 12 pitchers on their active roster.

“He’s our second-hole hitter and was swinging great and playing great defense,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Casilla. “He’s doing all the things you’d like to see, and his head has been in the game. And then all of a sudden this happens. Our depth in the middle infield isn’t the greatest, so you can’t afford too many injuries like that. Some people will have to step up.”

Casilla, who was hitting .259/.322/.369 with 15 stolen bases and a team-high 21 doubles in 96 games this season, said he’s hopeful that he can return to action as soon as he’s eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Aug. 12.

“It’s pretty much the same as yesterday,” Casilla said. “I kind of pulled it a little bit, so I’m going on the DL and going back to Minnesota to take care of it over there. I don’t think I’ll need a [rehab] assignment. I’ll be ready in 15 days. … I hope they don’t send me on an assignment. I’ll say no because it’s too much time.”

In the meantime, the Twins will have to rely on a combination of Tolbert, Hughes and Trevor Plouffe at second base with Casilla out of action.

Tolbert, who hit .181 in 55 games with the Twins before being optioned on July 18, started at second base against the Rangers on Thursday.

And shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka is expected to bat second in Casilla’s absence, as Gardenhire said he’s hopeful he can handle the bat the way Casilla did in the two-hole.

“I’m hoping Nishi handles it very well,” Gardenhire said. “When we signed him, we were hoping he’d be at the top of the lineup. So maybe this will get his confidence going a little bit.”

WAR leaders at halfway point (Game 82 vs Brewers)

MINNEAPOLIS — After last night’s heartbreaking loss to the Brewers in which the Twins blew a seven-run lead — tied for the fourth-worst blown lead in franchise history — the Twins are at the halfway point of the season.

It’s safe to say it’s been a disappointing year for the Twins, who are just 35-46 and enter today trailing the Indians by nine games in the American League Central.

But today was also a positive day for Michael Cuddyer, who was named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his 11-year career.

Cuddyer was certainly a deserving All-Star for his impressive play in the first-half of the season, and his versatility only helped his case. But with that in mind, here’s a look at the leaders for the Twins in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) through 81 games courtesy of FanGraphs.com:

Position players:

1. Denard Span, 2.6
2. Michael Cuddyer, 1.6
3. Jason Kubel, 1.0
4. Alexi Casilla, 0.7
5. Ben Revere, 0.6
6. Jim Thome, 0.5
7. Delmon Young, 0.3
8. Danny Valencia, 0.3
9. Luke Hughes, 0.2

Pitchers:

1. Scott Baker, 2.0
2. Carl Pavano, 1.5
3. Brian Duensing, 1.4
4. Glen Perkins, 0.9
5. Francisco Liriano, 0.8
6. Nick Blackburn, 0.6
7. Alex Burnett, 0.2
8. Anthony Swarzak, 0.1
9. Chuck James, 0.1

Notes: I only included players with positive WARs, so the list didn’t include players such as Joe Mauer (-0.2), Justin Morneau (-0.3), Joe Nathan (-0.3) or Tsuyoshi Nishioka (-0.6). So it really is pretty amazing that Mauer, Morneau and Nathan — with 12 All-Star appearances among them — combined to produce a -0.8 WAR so far this year.

Lineups for the 1:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Brewers (45-39)

1. Rickie Weeks, DH
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Corey Hart, RF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Mat Gamel, 3B
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
7. Mark Kotsay, LF
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
9. Craig Counsell, 2B

RHP Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 6.67 K/BB)

Twins (35-46)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

RHP Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.86 K/BB)

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