Nishioka solid in home debut

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2011 - 6:55 AM

Nick Blackburn pitched eight strong innings, and Michael Cuddyer hit a second-inning homer Thursday, as the Twins defeated the White Sox 1-0 in a game that must have felt like another Opening Day for Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

It was Nishioka's Target Field debut, his first major league game as a shortstop and his first official game since he broke his left fibula on April 7 in New York.

Nishioka got tested early and often, as the White Sox hit 11 ground balls to him, including two in the first inning. Nishioka and second baseman Alexi Casilla turned two double plays behind Blackburn, and Nishioka's only error came on a sixth-inning grounder by Paul Konerko.

"I think it was a good test for me to have 11 grounders," Nishioka, a three-time winner of Japan's Gold Glove Award, said through an interpreter. "I had that one error, but Blackburn picked me up, so I thank him for that."

Blackburn outdueled Mark Buehrle and improved to 5-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his past nine starts.

Lineup shuffle

Manager Ron Gardenhire surprised Nishioka by putting him in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, and last year's Japanese batting champion went 1-for-4 with an infield single and two strikeouts, leaving his average at .214.

Nishioka could be moved to the No. 9 spot on Friday, when Joe Mauer returns to the lineup.

"I think the 3 spot is for Joe [Mauer], so I kind of thought about wearing No. 7," Nishioka said.

Roster moves

The Twins had to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Mauer, who was on the 60-day disabled list, so they passed outfielder Brian Dinkelman through waivers and assigned him outright to Class AAA Rochester.

They also activated lefthanded reliever Glen Perkins from the 15-day disabled list, optioning Chuck James back to Rochester.

The moves left the Twins with three catchers -- Mauer, Drew Butera and Rene Rivera -- for the weekend interleague series against San Diego, but Gardenhire said one will come off the active roster before the team travels to San Francisco next week.


• Gardenhire said Joe Nathan (strained right flexor muscle) will be heading on a rehab assignment to Rochester.

• The Twins signed their second-round draft pick, former Eden Prairie High School and University of Oregon righthander Madison Boer.

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