Embattled infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka was not in the lineup Friday as the Twins opened a three-game series with a 12-6 loss to Tampa Bay.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, without addressing Nishioka's recent horrid play, simply said it was time to get Alexi Casilla in the lineup while Jamey Carroll continues to hold down third base and Trevor Plouffe recovers from a bruised right thumb.
"We're going to play everybody, as always," Gardenhire said. "That's just the way it's going to be. We'll see how we go day-to-day. Alexi's going to play. Alexi swung good the other day. Jamey's been picking it over there, so you play the guys you feel give you the best chance to win each night."
Nishioka was out on the field early Friday, stretching and running in the outfield before taking early batting practice.
"I mean, every day is a new day," Nishioka said through a translator. "Thinking about today, it's a fresh day. During the season, it's always easy to look back at what you did, but I'd rather do that when the season is over. You just want to look ahead while we're still in season."
His first three games since rejoining the Twins earlier this week saw many more negatives than positives. He committed three errors. He is 0-for-12 with one walk and one sacrifice fly. He had a grounder bounce off his chest, then fell down while throwing to first. He was late covering first base on a bunt play. He was out of position on a relay.
It doesn't look like Nishioka has gotten any better. But he tries to remain positive.
"I think you have to take it all in," Nishioka said. "Not just the praises you hear from people in the media, but you always have to take the tough criticism and try to take that and have it help you improve as a player. Just looking back in Japan, there were tough times, and I was criticized. So you have to take it all in and hope it helps you grow as a player."
Plouffe to Rochester
Nishioka's future with the Twins could be linked to Plouffe's recovery. But what Plouffe initially hoped would be a few days has turned into a 19-game absence.
The good news is that Plouffe is headed to Class AAA Rochester for what the Twins hope is a brief rehabilitation stint. Plouffe is not going to find out if he is ready unless he sees some game action.
"Yeah, to get about eight at-bats, I hope," Gardenhire said. "Get some swings, make sure the thumb is good and get him back up here. Got to get some live at-bats. BP is fine, he says he feels good, but he's got to face the ball coming in 90 miles an hour and see how it feels coming off the bat. You put him out here tonight, he takes a swing, jams himself, we lose 21 days ... I'm not going to do that. So he needs to go hit for a couple days."
The Twins haven't missed Plouffe, winning nine of 13 games before Friday's blowout loss. But they would like to see him continue to take steps toward establishing himself. He is batting .259 with 19 homers and 38 RBI. Once he returns, the Twins could return Nishioka to Rochester.
Righthander P.J. Walters (shoulder) gave up two runs on four hits and one walk in two-thirds of an inning Thursday in a rehab stint at Class AAA Rochester. But he got his work in and will continue with his program.
Reliever Matt Capps (shoulder) is not throwing yet but will be re-evaluated Monday.
Reliever Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) is doing well with his long-toss drills.