Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Sid Hartman: Corner positions should help ease Nishioka's loss

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 8, 2011 - 12:50 AM

The Twins made a big investment in second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka over the offseason, paying $5.3 million just for the rights to negotiate with him, then giving the Japanese infielder a $9.25 million contract.

But now their biggest offseason acquisition will be sidelined for possibly up to two months because of a broken leg suffered Thursday, when Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher ran into Nishioka trying to break up a potential double play during New York's 4-3 victory over the Twins at Yankee Stadium. The injury leaves some question marks in the middle of the Twins infield, with Alexi Casilla still not a proven everyday player at shortstop.

A year ago, the shortstop and second base positions were set at this point with the trade for shortstop J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee and the signing of veteran free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson. They also had longtime reserve Nick Punto to fill in as needed, as he had done capably throughout his Twins career.

But Hudson was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season, signing with San Diego. Hardy was traded to Baltimore to help clear the way for Nishioka's arrival, and Punto's $5 million option was not picked up, and he signed for St. Louis for a $750,000 deal. Punto underwent surgery for a sports hernia in February, and the Cardinals have not set a date for when he will be able to return.

However, a big plus for the Twins at this point is that at least the corner infield positions seem to be solidified. Last year, first baseman Justin Morneau was having an MVP-type season before suffering a concussion that ended his season in July after only 81 games. He was hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI at the time. Then, over the second half of the season, rookie call-up Danny Valencia emerged as an outstanding third baseman at the plate and in the field. He hit .311 and with seven home runs and 40 RBI, with all but three RBI coming after the All-Star break.

The Twins essentially had each for only half of 2010, when they won the AL Central by six games. If Morneau and Valencia can stay healthy -- and if Morneau can hit like he did before he left the lineup and if Valencia can hit like he did after he joined it -- the Twins could overcome the second base and shortstop question marks.

Bud Grant's theory that athletic ability is important but durability is just as or more important has followed the Twins in recent years. Last season, they led the major leagues with 13 players spending time on the disabled list, including key players such as Morneau.

The injury to Nishioka is a terrible blow because the Twins expected so much from him, and they don't have anybody with equal ability and potential to replace him.

Fortunately, they have Luke Hughes available. He had a great spring and has hit .270 in 598 minor league games.

Hitting hurts vs. Yankees

In going 1-2 against the Yankees, the Twins are 3-13 against them since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. Hitting has been the Twins' biggest problem against New York, as they have hit .239 vs. the Yankees during this period.

Twins pitchers have posted a 4.72 ERA in 141 innings and allowed the Yankees to hit .269 against them.

The Yankees have also hit a home run in all but four of those 16 games and during that same span the Twins have left 128 on base while the Yankees have left 111.

Jottings

• A lot of the Gophers assistant men's basketball coaches were nervous last week while attending the NCAA tournament because they were concerned that coach Tubby Smith was going to take the Missouri job that was officially offered to him. ... Bucknell, which lost to eventual NCAA champion Connecticut in the round of 64 during this year's NCAA tournament, will be the Gophers' opening foe at home next year. The Bison are led by center Mike Muscala, the former Roseville athlete who was named Patriot League Player of the Year and honorable mention All-America as a sophomore this season. Assuming Muscala plays, it will be the third time in four years the Gophers play host to a nonconference game against a team that appeared in the previous season's NCAA tournament and is led by one or more Minnesotan. Last November, they opened the season against Wofford, which made back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2010 and '11 with three Minnesotans leading the way in Braham's Isaiah Dahlman and DeLaSalle's Cameron Rundles and Jamar Diggs. In December 2008, the Gophers played Cornell, which won Ivy League titles in '08, '09 and '10 behind Eden Prairie standout Ryan Wittman. ... Blake Hoffarber scored eight points Wednesday night for his team in the Portsmouth Basketball tournament, where college seniors hoping for a pro career play in front of scouts.

• Gophers football coach Jerry Kill has talked on the phone for a long time with former maroon and gold coaches Lou Holtz and Tim Brewster and had a personal visit at the Bierman Building from Glen Mason. ... Every player from the current Gophers recruiting class will be in school in June.

• Michael Nowakowski, who operates local ticket broker Ticket King, reports that the cheapest tickets for Friday's Twins opener are being sold for $55, down from an original asking price of $100, adding that the market for Target Field games is not as hot as it was a year ago. Ticket King also made twice as much money this year on Timberwolves tickets as it did on Wild ones. Nowakowski also mentioned that the hottest Gophers football ticket is the North Dakota State game and that Ticket King had its lowest Gophers hockey ticket profit in 20 years.

• Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson is excited about the 2011-12 team, with only two seniors on the current team and a good recruiting class. And for the 2012-13 class, Robinson added what InterMat rates as the 11th overall junior in the nation, Brandon Kingsley of Apple Valley, a three-time state champion with a record of 170-6 with 127 pins. Brandon's brother Jordan will be a Gophers freshman this coming season.

• Ex-Gophers defenseman Nick Leddy had a goal and an assist for Chicago in Wednesday's 4-3 NHL victory over St. Louis. He has four goals and three assists in 44 games with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. ... Shattuck-St. Mary's product Zach Parise might not play again this season for New Jersey after playing in his first game since Oct. 30 on Saturday. He had missed 65 games in a row because of a knee injury.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0020320007140
Minnesota010010000272
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:C.Kluber(17-9) L:A.Swarzak(3-2)
HR: CLE- None MIN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close