April 07, 2011
That string of unfortunate luck continued on Thursday afternoon when they not only dropped a tough one-run decision at Yankee Stadium, but lost second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka(notes) for a yet to be determined time with a fractured left fibula.
The injury occurred in the seventh inning when Nick Swisher(notes) slid hard into second base attempting to break up a double play. Determined to make the play, Nishioka covered the bag from his second base position and cleanly received the throw from third baseman Danny Valencia(notes). He then firmly planted his left leg a good two feet in front of the bag to make his relay throw and suffered a direct hit from all 210 pounds of Swisher.
It doesn't look like there was anything dirty or unnecessary on Swisher's part and the Twins said as much in the postgame. It was an aggressive, but clean slide. A hard-nosed baseball play we see several hundred times a season, and almost always wonder how the infielder escaped major injury. Only this time the end result was what will likely prove to a be significant injury for the Twins. (The team has not announced how much time Nishioka is expected to miss, but called up Luke Hughes(notes) to take his roster spot.)
Perhaps the most painful part for both the Twins and Nishioka? Had he been able to successfully turn a much easier double play chance on Nick Swisher's grounder one batter prior, this injury would have never happened.
Nishioka came to the United States as a shortstop. When the Twins won the bid last November, they elected to shift him over to second base to help strengthen their infield defense. It's likely he still hasn't found his comfort level playing the new position, which contributed to the unsuccessful turn, and the unfortunate injury.
But you have to admire the way he stood in there and tried to make the play.