Nishioka still not comfortable, making defensive mistakes

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 9:00 AM

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Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka seems to make one head-scratching play a game. Friday was no different.

Nishioka, while trying to turn a double play in the eighth inning on Friday, was clobbered by Daniel Descalso's take-out slide. It brought back memories of last April 7, when he suffered a broken left leg when he was slid into by the Yankees' Nick Swisher.

The grounder, hit to Pedro Florimon at short, was hit softly, making a double play less likely. And, despite the Twins showing him how to avoid contact at second, Nishioka stood over the bag, making it easy to take him out.

"The only way he's going to get rid of that ball is to clear the base,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Nishioka was 1-for-2 on Friday and is batting .278 this spring. But at times he's looked uncomfortable and has missed plays in the field. The Twins had hoped that Nishioka's second year in the United States would go smoother.

"We're just trying to get him out there and see if he can play and if he can rebound from last year,'' Gardenhire said.

Marquis better

Jason Marquis on Friday made the adjustments he was looking for.

After some extra work in the bullpen this week, Marquis looked sharper during a 3-2 loss to St. Louis.

Marquis gave up one run over three innings on three hits and two walks. It looks bad, but he was around the plate more than he was in his debut on Tuesday against Boston. The work with pitching coach Rick Anderson paid off.

"I've been working hard to get my delivery right,'' Marquis said. "I adjusted my windup, working with Andy in back-to-back bullpens to make sure I felt right going in, and I was able to do a better job.''

Wainwright returns

Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright went two innings on Friday, giving up one run. It was his first outing since September 2010, when he tore a ligament in his elbow and missed all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery.

He walked one and struck out two in two innings.

Marquis said he's good friends with Wainwright and was encouraged to see him return to action.

"I'm just glad he's out on the mound, pain-free,'' Marquis said. "A lot of guys have, obviously, been through that surgery. When it's a close friend of yours, you hope for nothing but the best.''

On deck

The Twins on Saturday have two games at Bradenton against the Pirates. Righthander Scott Baker will start a B game at 9 a.m. Righthanders Jason Bulger, Esmerling Vasquez and Alex Burnett are among the pitchers scheduled to follow him.

Righthander Terry Doyle, who has looked sharp, will start the regularly scheduled game at noon. Lefthander Matt Maloney and righthanders Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Jared Burton and Lester Oliveros are among pitchers scheduled to appear in the game.


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