The Twins opened the season with Tsuyoshi Nishioka batting second, and Manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday that he still views Nishioka as a top-of-the lineup hitter (leadoff or No. 2).
"I believe once Nishi catches up with more at-bats, we’ll probably slide him up there," Gardenhire said before his team's 6-5 victory over the Padres. "We’ll see how it all works out."
For now, Gardenhire doesn't want to interrupt the exciting work Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla are doing setting the table.
Revere had another electrifying game, going 2-for-4 with two singles and an RBI. He over-slid third base on a stolen base attempt after reaching on a first-inning error.
"I told our strength coach that I need a parachute," Revere said. "That’s like the 10th time I’ve done that."
But when Revere broke his belt, trying to make a spectacular diving catch on Chris Denorfia's shallow fly ball in the third inning, he said that was a first. Revere said he knew he caught the ball -- which replays confirmed -- but was just glad the runner at first base had to tag, so the Twins got the force out.
Casilla went 2-for-3 with a walk, leaving his average at .343 (36-for-105) since May 15.
Batting seventh, Nishioka went 1-for-4 with a double. He also committed his fourth error in eight games and made a curious play to end the fifth inning. With runners on second and third base, Ryan Ludwick hit a hard grounder toward the hole between second and third base.
Nishioka used his exceptional quickness to get in front of the ball, sliding to a knee as he made the stop, and then threw to first for the out.
"I didn’t know if he backhanded it or got in front of it," Gardenhire said. "I didn’t really care; it was an out. He did come into me and say, 'Should I backhand that ball?'
"And I said, 'Yeah, that’s a backhand probably. But it’s also a get-an-out play, so get an out if you can."
Nishioka's role will continue to evolve, offensively and defensively, but for now, the Twins are lucky to have Revere and Casilla settled in nicely.