FORT MYERS, Fla - Bobby Valentine forewarned Twins shortstopTsuyoshi Nishioka that he would break his leg if he didn't learn to get out of the way on the inside slide.
Nishioka broke his leg on a take-out slide by Yankees' rightfielder Nick Swisher last April 7th. Valentine had warned Nishioka who played for Valentine with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan over dinner in Fort Myers last March when Valentine was in town for a Baseball Tonight show.
"I came to Fort Myers last year to have dinner with him to tell him they’re going to try to break his legs and tried to show him how to get out of the way because he didn’t do that in Japan. He played second base for me the first year. We were doing the show. I actually got up to show him where he had to be on that double play because in Japan you don’t have to worry about the inside slide, only the outside slide. When a guy comes inside and rolls, he had to be out of the way. He gave me the old ‘Ya, ya,ya work harder, work harder. I understand I understand’ and he often did when he played for me," Valentine recalled..
"He broke his leg," Valentine said.
"I saw him I had him as a baby in Japan. I had him when he was one of the worst players on the field and I had him when he was one of the best players on the field. And sometimes it was within the same season," Valentine recalled.
Nishioka was today's starting shortstop for the Twins.
In other news:
Valentine said Carl Crawford was being examined Monday and could be cleared to resume his normal activities....
Valentine said Josh Beckett will likely have to get used to different catchers now that Jason Varitek is gone. Valentine would not guarantee that Jarrod Saltalamacchia would catch all of Beckett's games. Valentine has frowned upon the "personal catcher" situation that some pitchers have. He told the amusing story of the closer he had in Japan, refusing to come into a game because his regular catcher wasn't in the game. "I said, really?'
Valentine did say the pitcher-catcher relationship is being emphasized in camp. He expects catching coach Gary Tuck and pitching coach Bob McClure will get their catchers and pitchers on the same page and thinking the same way, but he feels it will be a season-long process.
"I think Josh Beckett will pitch regardless of who the catcher is," Valentine said.
Valentine said that while David Ortiz saw time at first base and handled seven chances vs. Boston College, he will also use Nick Punto there. he also said he may have some other players workout at first but not necessarily play there in games. One of them could be Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has experience as a first baseman.
Valentine spoke a lot about lineups and indicated he doubts anyone will play 162 games this season even though Adrian Gonzalez, for one, prefers to.
He expects there will be interchangeable lineups based on matchups and that Jacoby Ellsbury may not always hit first. he didn't rule out Dustin Pedroia hitting first at times. He mentioned that it's easier to move the runner along if there's a lefthanded hitter hitting second in the lineup.
*Valentine said that Daniel Bard had a slightly sore back, but nothing major.