FORT MYERS, FLA. - Making his American spring training debut, Tsuyoshi Nishioka handled five chances flawlessly at second base for the Twins on Sunday night.
He went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in an 8-4 victory over the Red Sox before a sellout crowd of 8,027 at Hammond Stadium.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire seemed particularly impressed by Nishioka's speed. Batting second, Nishioka swung at and missed the first pitch he saw from Boston's Josh Beckett before hitting a sharp grounder to shortstop and racing to make it a close play at first base.
"He hit a rocket," Gardenhire said. "We know he can run, but he was flying. That's a feel-good for us because we like the hustle, and he was flying."
Gardenhire said Nishioka made "three great plays" on defense.
"The field was wet, the ball was skipping pretty good, and he made them look pretty doggone easy," Gardenhire said.
Through a translator, Nishioka said: "I was not nervous, but once the starting lineup was called, and my named was on the screen, it was a very special moment for me. I really appreciate being a part of this team."