Minnesota Twins 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka Fractures Leg, Team Calls Up Luke Hughes

Mark MillerCorrespondent IApril 7, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07:  Nick Swisher #33 of the New York Yankees slides in to break up the double play injuring Tsuyoshi Nishioka #1 of the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on April 7, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

After a late rally against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night it seemed that things may have been falling into place for the Minnesota Twins.

Sure enough, the momentum would be short lived as Wednesday's game was postponed due to rain, preventing the Twins an opportunity to pitch against the Yankees weakest link in Freddie Garcia.

As Thursday approached, the Twins would send Francisco Liriano to the mound in hopes of winning one last game in the Bronx before heading to Minnesota for Friday's home opener.

Things wouldn't go quite as hoped. Liriano was shaky in his outing and the Twins once again failed to get clutch hits as they were for the most part baffled by the Yankees pitching staff.

It gets worse. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka was taken out by Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher in an attempt to break up a double play.

By all accounts the play was clean, as the Twins weren't pointing any fingers. Nishihoka had to be helped off the field and it was later determined that he had suffered a fractured left fibula.

It's a very unfortunate blow for both Nishioka and the Twins, as the second baseman was starting to hit the ball better and appeared to have improved noticeably since his shaky Major League debut in Toronto last week.

The Twins immediately called up second baseman Luke Hughes to replace Nishioka, as the team has yet to establish a timetable for his return. The question now is: How much will the Twins really miss Nishioka?

The team invested a great deal of time and money in signing Nishioka this past offseason, so it's definitely disappointing to see his career with the Twins derailed this early.

But at the same time, Hughes was quite possibly the most impressive young player in Spring Training, and many considered him to be the right choice for utility infielder.

Hughes batted .246 in 23 games in spring training, hitting a team high six home runs. Twins fans probably remember him best for hitting a home run in his first Major League at-bat last season, so his power may not be all that surprising. It is, however, definitely impressive.

Part of the reason the team had opted to reassign him rather than use him as a utility infielder is his perceived inability to play shortstop, so it's likely that he'll be immediately inserted into the starting lineup at second while Matt Tolbert will hold down the utility role.

It will more than likely take Hughes a while to adjust to having a consistent role in the Major Leagues. He fought hard for the opportunity this spring, however, and the Twins should have every confidence that he'll fill in admirably.