La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame: Nishioka shut down. Could Morneau and Kubel join him?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 16, 2011 - 11:43 PM

Joe Mauer isn't the only Twin to be shut down for the rest of the season.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced after Friday's game that infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka also has been shut down because of a nagging oblique strain.

And there's evidence that Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel have played their final game of the season.

Gardenhire revealed the Nishioka decision when asked by a Japanese reporter for an update.

``Nishi is not going to play for the rest of the year,'' Gardenhire said. ``He's out. The trainers have shut him down. They are giving him treatment for his ribs, and he will not play for the rest of the year.''

Gardenhire said Nishioka has been given an offseason program to follow. He finishes the season batting .226 with no homers 19 RBI and two stolen bases in six attempts. He's been a bust, but the Twins continue to indicate that he will return next season and be in the mix for a starting middle infield spot,

Morneau was at the park on Friday but was very sick. He picked up the bug that has been going around the clubhouse in recent days. That, coupled with his attempts to shake off concussion symptoms, could lead the Twins to decide to shut him down for the final two weeks of the season as well.

The Twins and Morneau had hoped he could play before the season ended so he could entered the offseason with some piece of mind. That might not be possible now. He hasn't played since Aug, 28, when he went 3-for-4 against Detroit.

Jason Kubel was the designated hitter on Friday but left after two at-bats when his troublesome left foot, which he bruised in June, began to ache.

``It doesn't look good for Koob,'' Gardenhire said.

Kubel said he plans to have the foot re-examined during the offseason but is still convinced that rest is all he needs. He's rested it but has aggravated it when he's tried to play. It's not getting any better.

``Everything has been frustrating about this year,'' Kubel said.

By early next week, Morneau and Kubel could join Mauer and Nishioka on the shut down list.


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