Same old Tsuyoshi

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Called up from Triple-A Sunday for the first time this year, the Twins’ most expensive middle infielder, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, made his season debut Monday. And the only nice thing that can be said about it is that the Twins beat the Indians 14-3 anyway.

While his teammates were racking up four homers, 14 hits and five walks, Nishioka went 0-for-5 and committed two errors at second base.

Nishioka was hitting just .245/.309/.301 before being summoned from Rochester, so very little is expected at this point. He had one homer in 311 at-bats, and he was caught stealing in six of his 12 attempts.

With the 0-for-5 today, Nishioka is hitting .221/.273/.243 with no homers in 226 at-bats as a major leaguer, with metrics that suggest he might be even worse defensive than offensively. The Twins still owe him another $3.25 million after this season, but it’d be a surprise if he’s still in the organization next spring. A return to Japan might be for the best.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.