April 8, 2011
A's (2-4) vs.
Coverage begins at 1 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The biggest offseason addition for the Minnesota Twins was second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Unfortunately, the Japanese import won't be available in their first game at Target Field.
The injured Nishioka will miss the home opener Friday when the Twins and Oakland Athletics start a three-game series.
Nishioka broke his left fibula when Nick Swisher slid into him while breaking up a double play in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Thursday.
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The Twins (2-4) said they believed the play was clean, and Swisher sought out Nishioka in the X-ray room after the game to apologize. Nishioka was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and he will be examined Friday.
"It was a good play, breaking up the double play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Not even an issue."
Matt Tolbert replaced Nishioka, who had five hits in 24 at-bats during the six-game, season-opening trip.
The Twins saw their home run production drop by 30 in 2010 after the opening of Target Field. They might be able to go deep more often now that 14 black spruce trees have been removed from the batter's eye area.
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Last season, players complained the trees affected sight lines as they swayed in the wind and interfered with the batter's ability to lock in on pitches. Still, Minnesota went an AL-best 53-28 at home.
"I honestly hope it plays about the same because we won games, and I kind of like winning games at home," Gardenhire told the Twins' official website.
The fans almost surely will give Justin Morneau a huge welcome in his first home game since July 4. Morneau hit four of his 18 homers last year at Target Field before suffering a concussion July 7 at Toronto that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Power was also a concern for Oakland (2-4) after managing 109 homers for the second-worst total in the AL in 2010. The Twins and A's are among a group of teams tied for the lowest mark this season with two.
Joe Mauer will be behind the plate Friday for Minnesota, although Gardenhire usually prefers that backup Drew Butera catch Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75 ERA). The Twins' opening day starter was scheduled to start Thursday in New York, but was pushed back after a rainout Wednesday.
"Last year, it so happened I had great success with Drew," Pavano said. "I've also had a lot of success with Joe, so we'll see where it falls this year."
Pavano took advantage of Target Field to go 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his last nine home starts in 2010. He is trying to recover after giving up eight runs over four-plus innings in last Friday's 13-3 loss at Toronto.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Athletics. Oakland newcomer David DeJesus is 11 for 26 against him.
It's unclear if second baseman Mark Ellis will be in the lineup after he didn't start Thursday's 2-1 win at Toronto because of an inner-ear problem and dizziness. Ellis entered the game in the eighth inning and singled in the ninth, but the A's are not sure if he will be on the team flight to Minnesota.
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The A's went 2-4 at Target Field last season.
Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) had one of the victories, and is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts against the Twins. The left-hander gave up one run over six innings Saturday in a 5-2 home loss to Seattle.