Tsuyoshi Nishioka received relatively positive news on his fractured fibula, as doctors determined that he won’t need surgery and could potentially return in 4-6 weeks.
It was sad to see Nishioka on the field supporting himself with crutches during the Twins’ home opener ceremonies Friday, particularly since his parents flew in from Japan to be there, but the Target Field crowd gave him a nice welcome and even a six-week recovery timetable could mean returning to the lineup by the end of May.
One interesting subplot with Nishioka’s leg injury is whether he was fully prepared to deal with runners like Nick Swisher sliding hard into second base (or the general vicinity) in an effort to break up double plays. Parker Hageman at Over the Baggy explains that baserunners in Japan typically don’t engage in takeout slides and after watching Nishioka during early spring workouts bench coach Scott Ullger noted that “mak[ing] sure he clears the bag at second base so he doesn’t get killed” was an issue.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.