How the Twins can Fix Tsuyoshi Nishioka


Heading into their weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Target Field, the Twins and their fans can rest a little easier after taking two of three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers despite giving up fifteen runs in the first game and scoring only seven runs in all the games combined. This last fact simply shows that the club is resourceful and is getting quality pitching on a regular basis. Starter Scott Baker made Andre Ethier look like a Little Leaguer during the matinee game on Wednesday.

The games against the Brewers will conclude the current run of interleague play because the Rays come to town to celebrate the holiday. Second baseman Alexi Casilla only played in the first two games because he was experiencing soreness in his back and with his right thumb. This could be a case of preventive medicine. The rest likely will keep the injury from getting worse through pushing him past his limits.

I had the privilege of watching the broadcasts through the L.A. feed. “Psycho” Steve Lyons noted on more than one occasion that shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been battling some nerves since his start in Minnesota.

Luckily for him, I have some advice on how to relax his mind and increase his productivity. He should realize that the big bats in the order have experienced injuries.

Jim Thome, Delmon Young, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel have all spent time on the shelf. The team doesn’t expect Nishioka to put up similar numbers in the home run or runs batted in department.

They are looking for on base percentage stolen base increases. This gives him some leeway trying to draw walks, and utilizing his ability to get infield hits. In addition, Nishioka needs to forget about the five million dollar buyout from the organization and the fifteen million or so that the team will pay him. He would give one hundred percent regardless of his salary and prepare the same way. Simplify the game plan and go into each game with one primary goal.

It could be as simple as seeing a certain number of pitches in each plate appearance or staying in the batting box after the swing to fully complete the motion. Breaking down the game in this manner can provide clarity in any sport, especially baseball. It has been said that hitting a major league pitch is the most complicated thing to do in professional sports.

If this is the case, then Nishioka should not be ashamed. Focusing on the future instead of the past is the only thing that is constructive at this juncture. Nishioka should also change the primary voice that he listens to in terms of his hitting. If batting coach Joe Vavra is the person that spends the most time instructing Nishioka, then maybe the duties could be shifted to a base coach or the bench coach for a period of time. Sometimes a new messenger can make all the difference in the world.

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