The ‘rock star’ heads for the minors


AP Photo/Dave Martin

Anyone who saw a Twins game last year and witnessed Tsuyoshi Nishioka flail at pitches or make weak throws from shortstop that never seemed to beat the runner to first won’t be shocked by this morning’s news: Nishioka will start the season with the Twins AAA team in Rochester.

The Star Tribune writes:

Nishioka, 27, batted .240 (6-for-25) in nine Grapefruit League games this spring. He had several defensive miscues early in camp.

Nishioka was a Gold Glove winner and batting champion for the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Pacific League in 2010. The Twins invested $14.6 million to acquire him, including a $5.3 million posting fee.

He certainly had some tough breaks last year, including a broken leg early in the season as he tried to turn a double play — something he was warned would happen if he didn’t change.

Clearly, the U.S. game moves too fast for him right now.

It’s a long way from last year, when Kare 11 did a huge two-part takeout on Nishioka before the 2011 season that described him as, “a hero in his homeland, a baseball superstar treated more like a rock star…perhaps Japan’s hottest export, a gold glove infielder with a million dollar smile and a fashion model wife…”

Here’s hoping the guy finds himself. The toughest part for Twins fans is that they let a good shortstop leave and placed a big bet on Nishioka.

Listening to the Kare 11 package from last year, this comment should have set off alarms:

“I will make an exciting play, but I will also make an exciting error too, so don’t miss it,” he said, flashing a wide smile.

— Paul Tosto

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