Something you may have missed — and further overshadowed by the hysteria of the Zack Greinke trade this morning — the Twins officially introduced Tsuyoshi Nishioka at Target Field yesterday.
The Twins signed Nishioka to a three-year, $9.25 million contract with a club option for 2014. He’ll be paid $3 million in each of the next three seasons. The option for 2014 is worth $4 million and contains a $250,000 buyout. The Twins secured exclusive negotiating rights with Nishioka by submitting a winning bid of $5,329,000, so they spent right around $15 million (or $14.829 million, to be exact) in order to sign him.
While Nishioka played shortstop in Japan, there has been speculation that he could be moved to second base stateside. The 26-year-old infielder told reporters (with a dose of humor) that he does not have a preference.
“I’m still a rookie here. I don’t think I have any say here or have a preference in playing second base or shortstop,” he said through his translator. “I’m preparing for both. I’ll do whatever the manager tells me. If the manager wants me to be a ballboy, I’ll do that as well.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters that he plans to wait until spring training to decide where Nishioka and Alexi Casilla will play.
Last we heard from Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks’ right-hander was contemplating Tommy John surgery for a partial UCL tear in his right elbow. Now, he appears to have decided to go through with the procedure.
Miller decided to skip Tommy John alternatives like plasma-rich platelet injections or stem cell treatment, which have been used to varying degrees of success by other major league pitchers with similar injuries. The surgery will set him back an estimated 12-18 months, FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke reports, which puts Miller’s estimated return date somewhere in 2018 if all goes well.
The 26-year-old starter was off to a rocky start this season, posting a 2-2 record and 4.09 ERA through 22 innings and striking out just 20 of 99 batters faced. This was his sophomore campaign in Arizona after muddling through the 2016 season with a 3-12 record, 6.15 ERA and 0.5 fWAR over 101 innings with the club.
Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.
While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.
Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.