Bert Blyleven: 'Nishioka Is Overmatched'

Tsuyoshi Nishioka #1 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after his infield play for an out of Howard Kendrick #47 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to end the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Wednesday afternoon, Tsuyoshi Nishioka started at second base for the Minnesota Twins.

In the second inning, Nishioka made a diving stop on a grounder up the middle, and made an ill-advised shovel pass from his glove that ultimately led to a couple of unearned runs.

In the sixth inning, Shelley Duncan lifted a high fly to short right field, and wound up on second base when Nishioka lost the ball in the sun. Later in the inning, Nishioka fielded a grounder and threw home to get Duncan, but the throw was high and Duncan slid home safely.

With the Indians leading 6-2 after six innings, Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven -- who apparently isn't worried about losing his job anytime soon -- said this about Nishioka:

Hey, I know the Twins paid some money for him, but in my opinion, he's had a tough time at the major-league level and I think the last three games have shown that...

I'm not afraid to say my feelings. I just feel that Nishioka is overmatched up here ... Maybe I'm speaking for the pitching staff. You want this guy to succeed, but it just has not happened. And I think this three-game series is a good indication of what the Twins maybe have to do.

By "maybe have to do", Blyleven presumably means releasing Nishioka.

For which there's a pretty good case.

Last year, his first with the Twins, Nishioka got into 68 games, mostly at shortstop, and finished with .226/.278/.249 batting line and didn't field well, either.

This year, Nishioka began the season in the minors. He didn't hit. The Twins finally brought him back to the majors, anyway, and he's started all three games at second base in this series against the Indians.

It's only three games, but Blyleven's seen enough. Has management, though?

Nishioka's never hit. Not in the majors, not in the minors. He's never fielded. Not in the majors, anyway. His numbers at shortstop were terrible last season, and he's looked completely lost at second base, averaging one error and who-knows-how-many misplays every 17 innings.

So why is he still around? The money. Between the posting fee and Nishioka's three-year contract, the Twins invested roughly $14.6 million in the one-time Japanese semi-star.

Nishioka's only 27. He should be peaking right around now. But if that's going to happen, it will happen back in Japan. It's getting really hard to see who is well-served by continuing what seems a doomed effort to turn him into a useful Major League Baseball player.

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