April 7, 2011

Tsuyoshi Nishioka fractures fibula in collision at second base

Tsuyoshi Nishioka's rough first week with the Twins got considerably worse this afternoon, as he suffered a fractured fibula when Nick Swisher slid very hard into second base to break up a potential double play. There's no official timetable yet for his return, but Nishioka will be out for at least a month and Luke Hughes has been called up from Triple-A to replace him on the roster. It's a good opportunity for Hughes to show he belongs, but what a shame for Nishioka.

  • LaBombo

    Ouch. Both literally and figuratively.

  • Jeff

    This is a bummer. He certainly wasn’t off to an amazing start and it was yet to be seen how he’d really work out in the long run, but I can’t help but think there have been enough little indications that with some time he could have been pretty successful. With this disruption it will be that much harder.

  • LaBombo

    Using the top-secret new Firefox plug-in called TimeTraveler, I surfed three weeks into the future at ESPN’s MLB page and found this news headline:

    “Twins re-acquire infielder Punto in exchange for top prospects Gibson and Hicks plus cash.”

    It’s going to be a long summer for Twins fans, I think.

  • HolyLiaison

    This is a scenario I see happening…

    Hughes shows he belongs in the majors, Nishioka recovers from his injury and replaces Casilla at SS.

    Twins get a needed right handed power bat in their lineup.

  • MC

    Dirty slide. Way too late. I’ve seen plenty of slides but the late slide and staying high through the slide was dirty.

  • adjacent

    I don’t know, in soccer it would have been a direct red card. Swisher left leg was way high.

  • Nick

    As if I needed another reason to hate Nick Swisher…

  • Dampfi

    C’mon. That was a clean slide. Nishioka just wasn’t ready for it.

  • Mike

    Surprised no one is mentioning his inexperience at second base thus far or am I wrong on that? Maybe that caused it? Also he should’ve thrown out Swisher on the previous play. Gladden said Japanese players don’t take out the second baseman on a play like this in Japan.

  • http://aarongleeman.com aarongleeman

    Surprised no one is mentioning his inexperience at second base thus far or am I wrong on that? Maybe that caused it?

    Nishioka won a Gold Glove at second base in Japan.

  • jimbo92107

    Not a dirty slide. It’s the runner’s job to break up the double play, and it’s Nishioka’s job to leap over the slide while throwing. If you looked at Nick Swisher’s reaction, he was horrified that the second baseman just stood there and let him smash into his leg. This was a hard lesson for a talented player just learning the ropes of American baseball.

    We all hope Nishi heals fast, and takes this opportunity to learn a few more handy phrases from his translator. I agree that when he gets back, the decision may be whether to drop Casilla, not whether to send Hughes back to Rochester.

    Meanwhile, Luke Hughes, y’all! The power rightie bat this team has needed for a couple years!

  • mike wants wins

    Not dirty, per the way the game is played, but why is the game played that way? He was, in no way, trying to get to 2nd base. Why is the game played such that this is acceptable? And, his leg is really high. That was “clean” per how the game is played, but why is is played that way, other than to make a player think “if I don’t bail, I’ll get hurt”?

  • brian

    Fudge.

  • We’veGotaPiperDown

    “If you looked at Nick Swisher’s reaction, he was horrified that the second baseman just stood there and let him smash into his leg”

    Laughable. Swisher pats Nishioka on the back while he’s still face down on the ground, then immediately runs back to the dugout to celebrate.

    Also, are you making any attempt to distinguish between “not dirty” and merely not being illegal? It’s obvious from the video that Swisher deliberately leg-whipped Nishioka right at the knee. So you’re saying that a play that’s illegal in hockey is clean in baseball? Disagree.

  • TMW

    Clean.

    Nishioka fully stepped into his throw as if he did not even register the possibility of Swisher trying to take him out. I don’t know if that’s a cultural difference between the Japanese game and the American game or just a lack of understanding about the position. I know he does have experience at 2B, but he has clearly looked like so far like 2B is not a natural position to him. Particularly in how it appears like his turns on the DP need a ton of work.

  • Jeff

    @TMW @mike_wants_wins

    Talk about a defenseless player. I don’t think it’s Nishi’s job to jump over a guy 6 feet off the base who’s not even sliding but rolling and bumbling with his legs up in the air. MLB should suspend Swisher and crack down somewhat on these types of “slides”.

  • We’veGotaPiperDown

    I don’t know if that’s a cultural difference between the Japanese game and the American game or just a lack of understanding about the position.

    It’s neither, and here’s proof: http://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/Valencia-Span-homer-as-Twins-top-Blue-Jays-4-3-1320733.php#photo-2

    Surprise! The 2nd base Gold Glove winner HAS heard of the takeout slide!!! He just wasn’t expecting a “Sweep the leg, Johnny!!!” kick to the knee instead of a legitimate slide.

  • JA

    Dirty slide,
    If you do think that was a dirty slide, you did’nt play the game. It was late and off the bag, with a leg whip. If Selig has balls Swisher is suspended for at least a week. Dirty slide!

  • clint

    Kaz Matsui was quoted a while back saying the most difficult adjustment he had to make coming to MLB was the takeout slide at 2B, which does not happen in the same fashion in Japan.

    I wouldn’t call it a dirty play, because this type of slide has become fairly common, but Swisher did slide late and did leg-whip Nishi pretty good. It’s somewhat amazing there aren’t more serious injuries that occur as a result of these type of plays. Similar to a baserunner barreling over a catcher, these are clearly not natural baseball plays IMO, but because they happen happen on a regular basis and have become part of the game (at the ML level), it’s difficult to call it dirty.

    Back to Nishi, I think it’s safe to say he hasn’t had enough time/experience to become accustomed to avoiding the takeout… at the speed the game moves, it’s more an instinctual thing. It’s unfortunate it happened so soon, and obviously that it happened at all. Hopefully he’s back by late May.

  • justawriter

    Personally, I think if we teach second basemen that their job is, ala Ty Cobb, to leave as many spike marks as possible in someone who makes a takeout slide, we would have problems like this.

  • justawriter

    that should be, we wouldn’t have as many problems like this.

  • Stupe

    “Dirty slide,
    If you do think that was a dirty slide, you did’nt play the game. It was late and off the bag, with a leg whip. If Selig has balls Swisher is suspended for at least a week. Dirty slide!”

    Meh…I was thinking that if you think it was a dirty slide, the only game you ever played was slow pitch softball.

  • Stupe

    One thing that was painfully clear this opening week is that Nishioka isn’t ready to play 2nd base at the Major League level. Several bad plays and then stupidly standing his ground on a take out play at 2nd. Simply not ready. He may be a gold glover in Japan, but that clearly doesnt mean much in MLB.

  • Tom Thumb

    I agree with justawriter.

  • gil

    Looked clean to me. The DP turn looked slow.

    That’s a tough way to learn, but I bet it will be an effective way.

  • mini_tb

    The timing of the slide was fine. That late slide at the infielders legs to break up the relay throw is unfortunately a part of the game.

    Could Swisher’s top leg have been lower? Yes. With the way he planted his front leg for the throw to first, Nishioka was going to get hurt on that play no matter where Swisher’s leg was. It’s probably a good break (sorry for the pun) that it was the leg and not the ankle or knee that gave way.

  • John W

    Not dirty, per the way the game is played, but why is the game played that way? He was, in no way, trying to get to 2nd base. Why is the game played such that this is acceptable?

    Holy crap, I agree with mike wants wins. Time to re-evaluate my life.

  • mike wants WINS

    John, not sure if I should laugh, or be insulted, but either way, I do find it funny who I agree with or not at times, yes.

    It’s like in the NFL, it used to be acceptable to clothes line a guy, but isn’t now.

  • John W

    For the same reason it’s not allowed in lower levels of baseball, it shouldn’t be allowed in the major leagues. Baseball is not a contact sport.

    Along the same lines, I don’t understand fighting in hockey. And nobody has been able to provide a coherent explanation without resorting to some abstract reason for tradition or unwritten rules or having players police the game. Entertaining? Yes. Does it make sense for the sport? Not really.

  • LaBombo

    For the same reason it’s not allowed in lower levels of baseball, it shouldn’t be allowed in the major leagues. Baseball is not a contact sport.

    Sounds good to me. The idea that getting a finger on the bag gives you a free shot to leg-whip your opponent, kick them in the junk, or perform the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique on them is an anachronism left over from the Ty Cobb era.

  • Al

    Know it was only a week but except for that one hit against the Yanks – Nishi looked terrible. Hughes is a big improvement.

  • Alphonso

    @Al You’re arriving at this conclusion after a week? Funny how when the guy was hitting .351 in spring training and drawing raves for his range and glove the cynics weren’t out. You didn’t think the dude would just jump in in week one without having to make adjustments, did you?