Baseball whispers

Newcomer Nishioka has been an early bright spot for Twins

February 20, 2011|By Phil Rogers

The Twins have had a tough start to camp, with Francisco Liriano experiencing tendinitis in his shoulder and Joe Mauer still moving gingerly after knee surgery. Japanese newcomer Tsuyoshi Nishioka, however, has looked great, flashing a swing that resembles Mauer's more than countryman Ichiro Suzuki's. … Like the White Sox's Chris Sale, the Reds' Aroldis Chapman will start 2011 in the bullpen, with his anticipated move into the rotation to be determined later. … Joba Chamberlain reported to camp overweight and in the Yankees' doghouse. He's being threatened with Triple-A, but it appears what Chamberlain badly needs is a change of scenery. … Mike Barnett, who is replacing Jeff Bagwell as the Astros' batting coach, was Michael Jordan's hitting instructor with the Birmingham Barons. … With MVP Joey Votto at first base, the Reds are looking at Yonder Alonso in left field during spring training. … Marlon Byrd, in the news because he currently works with former BALCO founder Victor Conte, said he started taking supplements (creatine, at the time) after an LSU team on which "everybody looked like Lou Ferrigno" beat his Georgia Tech team 29-13 in the 1996 College World Series. … The Indians are excited about the recoveries of Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana. Sizemore, who had knee surgery in June, is hitting and throwing but hasn't been cleared to run; Santana, who had knee surgery in August, was cleared for all activities starting camp. … The Angels, White Sox and Rangers are among the teams probably breathing sighs of relief they didn't land Miguel Cabrera when they talked to the Marlins about him after the 2007 season.

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