Released by Twins, Tsuyoshi Nishioka reportedly headed back to Japan

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Tsuyoshi Nishioka was released by the Twins last week after agreeing to forfeit the remaining $3.25 million on his contract and now Sankei Sports in Japan reports that he’s already “agreed in principle” to a deal with the Hanshin Tigers.

Nishioka was a massive flop for the Twins, hitting .215 with zero power and terrible defense at both shortstop and second base, but in 2010 he was a .346-hitting, Gold Glove-winning star in Japan and is still just 28 years old.

No word yet on how much Nishioka’s deal in Japan would be worth, but it won’t be surprising if he recoups that $3.25 million and then some in returning home. He played eight seasons for the Chiba Lotte Marines before signing a three-year, $9.25 million contract with Minnesota that also required the Twins spending another $5.3 million on his negotiating rights.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.