03/25/11 5:00 PM ET
Nishioka riding high as spring winds down
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
But Nishioka doesn't seem too impressed by his recent success at the plate, even though he's picked up hits against such top pitchers as Florida's Josh Johnson and Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
"If I continue to get one hit per game, then I'll only have 162 hits," Nishioka said through translator Ryo Shinkawa. "So I'll try to get more."
Nishioka has also had a chance this spring to show off his skills as a switch-hitter. He explained that he has more power from the right side of the plate, his natural side, but that he started to hit from the left side because of his speed.
"I don't have a preference, right or left," Nishioka said. "I started as a righty, but from middle school to my second year in professional baseball, I was only hitting left, before becoming a switch-hitter."
Slama back in action after elbow woes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Anthony Slama, who has been sidelined all month with a stress reaction in his right elbow, threw in a Minor League game against the Red Sox on Friday, allowing one run on one hit while walking one and striking out two in one inning of work.
Slama has made just one Grapefruit League appearance this spring, on Feb. 28 when he allowed two runs on four hits in an inning against the Red Sox. Shortly after that appearance, he suffered the stress reaction, caused by bones in his elbow rubbing against each other, during spring workouts.
Slama threw bullpen sessions on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before being declared ready to face live hitters in a Minor League game on Friday.
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"I'm pretty excited about it," said Slama, who posted 7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings with the Twins last season. "It's good to be back on track. The elbow feels fine. There's just a little bit of swelling, but we're getting it knocked out and taking care of it."
Additionally, three other Twins relievers saw action in the Minors on Friday, with Joe Nathan, Jose Mijares and Dusty Hughes each pitching a scoreless inning in relief.
Nathan, pitching on the second straight day for the first time this spring, struck out a batter in his scoreless inning. And Mijares, who was also making a back-to-back relief appearance after pitching a perfect ninth inning against the Phillies on Thursday, surrendered three hits, but didn't allow a run. Hughes, who hasn't given up a run over 10 innings in Grapefruit League play, struck out two in his scoreless inning.
"They did fine," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was all quick and painless. They all threw the ball good."
Biding time not easy for Baker
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.
It was certainly the case for Twins right-hander Scott Baker on Friday, as he had to sit through two lengthy delays in the first and second innings of his outing against the Orioles.
In the first inning, it was an injury delay, after Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen was struck in the right forearm by a line drive from Denard Span and left the game after just four pitches. And in the second, it was a another long inning, with the Twins' offense scoring six runs and sending 10 batters to the plate.
So while Baker looked just fine in the first and second inning, it caught up with him later, as he allowed a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the third and a solo homer from Jake Fox in the fourth. In all, Baker allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five over six innings.
"The first two innings were extremely tough," said Baker, who had surgery in the offseason to remove bone spurs and chips from his pitching elbow. "One inning of that is tough, but it's even tougher to do it two times in a row. Obviously, you appreciate the runs, but I definitely had to make an effort to stay loose."