|Nishioka breaks his leg just 6 games into his first season in the U.S.|
After playing both positions in Spring Training, Nishioka opened the season as the Twins' second baseman. Unfortunately, just six games into his American baseball career, he suffered a broken leg as Nick Swisher attempted to break up a double play. The discussion immediately centered on how Nishioka may have been unprepared for the takeout slides typical in American baseball since they are not a common practice in Japanese baseball.
Figuring it would be easier to avoid a similar incident at shortstop, the Twins had Nishioka swap positions with Alexi Casilla upon his return more than two months later. His season did not get significantly better after that, however. While he's avoided injury, his average hovered around the .220 mark and his OPS didn't to surpass .600 at any point after his return. In addition, he didn't look particularly good as a fielder either. He often mishandled balls and his arm appeared relatively weak, and certainly not strong enough to make up for those bobbled balls.
But Twins fans have to remember that, despite his experience in Japan, Nishioka is essentially a rookie. While what Nishioka has shown so far is definitely not worthy of a starting job, or perhaps even a reserve one, in the Majors, he is only 40 games into his first season in America. Not only is he a rookie, but he is adjusting to playing within a new language and a new culture. While he may not play any better than he has, fans must exhibit patience, as his play could easily improve with more exposure. It might not, but it's best to relax and give him a chance since it's still very early in his career and the Twins will be paying him for at least two more seasons anyways.