Nishioka savors his alone time

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Tsuyoshi Nishioka, earlier in the week, was taking grounders and hitting with his new teammates.

The past couple of days, he has been working out alone on a minor league field while the rest of the early-arriving Twins position players go through drills on an adjoining field.

"One thing that I know about Japan and Japanese baseball over there is if they do something and they have a really good year, they like to do the very same thing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've heard this over and over again. So, he's doing the very same program that he did leading up to spring training last year for his Japanese team -- the very same stuff, because he won a batting championship."

A superstitious ballplayer? No way.

Nishioka, who batted a league-high .346 last season for the Chiba Lotte Marines, is not obligated to train with Twins teammates until Wednesday, when position players join pitchers and catchers for workouts.

Gardenhire has told Nishioka, through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa, that he's welcome to wear Twins gear and to join the rest of the team in the main clubhouse. Nishioka has elected to stick with his program on the minor league side, where he has a strength coach and massage therapist/nutritionist with him.

But it is odd that he's on one field and the other players are on a field next to him.

Is this rubbing the Twins the wrong way?

"We haven't even got him over here," Gardenhire said. "How can you rub him?"


• Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano recently had an MRI on his sore shoulder in Miami. The Twins obtained a copy and saw nothing to be concerned about. Liriano will try to play catch in a couple of days.

• Righthander Scott Baker threw in the bullpen Saturday. He feels some discomfort when he throws his changeup, so he won't throw many changeups for a while.

• Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who has been a fixture at spring training since 1981, is recovering at his home in Chicago after having surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye. He hopes to get clearance to fly to Fort Myers in about a week.

• Bullpen catcher Nate Dammann returned to the Twin Cities on Friday to be with his wife, Katie, for the birth of their first child, a daughter named Ada.


Age: 28 Position: Righthanded pitcher

1. His full name is James Hoey V.

2. He and his wife drove to Fort Myers on Jan. 2 so he could work out at the Twins complex.

3. Can hit 98 miles per hour on the radar gun, but shoulder surgery in 2008 has stunted his progress.