In December, I wrote a post entitled The Myth of Injury-Prone, pointing out that the vast majority of major-league baseball players could be described with that silly label. It's a perilous game being played at the highest level, and injuries happen. Those players that manage to avoid stints on the disabled list year after year are the exceptions, not the rule.
Besides, although Hardy had battled ailments over a couple years, he'd at least proven in the past his ability to make it through a full season as a big-league regular. The team's two new middle infielders, Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, have proven no such thing and by letting Hardy, Orlando Hudson and Nick Punto walk out the door during the offseason the Twins left themselves with nothing in the way of experienced depth.
The play on which Nishioka suffered a fractured fibula yesterday, much like most injuries incurred by ballplayers, was a freak incident. Nick Swisher came barreling into second with a well executed takeout slide and Nishioka took the brunt of it.
Typically big-league middle infielders are adept at staying on their toes and going airborne while turning double plays, but Nishioka came up playing in Japan where the takeout slide isn't really a part of the game. The Twins spoke often during spring training about working to help the second baseman adapt in this respect, but old habits die hard and in the heat of the moment Nishioka handled the double play like he has hundreds of times before. He took the feed, turned and planted his feet to throw.
|Nick Laham, Getty|
Luke Hughes has been called up to fill Nishioka's vacant roster spot, and he'll battle with Matt Tolbert for playing time at the position. Neither one really has much business starting in the majors, which is especially troubling when you consider that it's not clear Casilla does either.
Nishioka, the Twins' only high-profile offseason addition, had done little to establish himself over the team's first handful of games and unfortunately he'll have to wait a while before he gets a chance to change that. In the meantime, the Twins are going to have a real headache on their hands with the middle infield.
It's hardly the type of catastrophe that will sink the season, but this offense could be in dire straits if some of the other hitters in the lineup don't get it going -- and soon.