03/04/12 6:00 PM EST
Bobby V reflects on time with Nishioka
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines to the 2005 Japan Series title while Nishioka was an All-Star four times under his watch from '05-08.
"You know, I had him as a baby in Japan," Valentine said. "I had him where he was one of the worst players on the field and had him when he was one of the best players on the field. And sometimes it was in the same season."
Valentine was dismissed after the 2009 season, and Nishioka ended up having a breakout year in '10, winning the battle en route to claiming another Japan Series title.
He signed a three-year deal worth $9.25 million with the Twins before last season, but struggled in his first year, hitting just .226 with a .527 OPS in 68 games. His first season was marred by injuries, including a broken left fibula suffered on April 7 when Nick Swisher slid into him at second base trying to break up a double play.
Nishioka missed 59 games because of the injury, but Valentine said it could've been prevented because he tried to warn him that players in the Majors try to break up double plays with hard slides not seen in Japan.
"I came to Fort Myers last year to have dinner with him, to tell him they were going to try and break his leg and show him how to try and get out of the way, because he didn't do that in Japan when he played second base for me his first year," Valentine said. "I actually got up and showed 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.
"A guy comes inside and rolls, he had to be out of the way, and he gave me the old -- as he did as a player for me -- 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand. I understand. I understand.' And he broke his leg."
Zumaya opts for Tommy John surgery
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Joel Zumaya informed the Twins he will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow at the end of the month, assistant general manager Rob Antony said Sunday.
Zumaya tore his ulnar collateral ligament on Feb. 25 while throwing a live batting-practice session on a practice field at the Lee County Sports Complex.
Zumaya, 27, was debating whether to have the surgery and attempt another comeback or retire, but ultimately decided to go with the operation with Dr. James Andrews. But Zumaya has yet to decide if he'll rehab with the Twins or on his own.
"We haven't figured all that out yet," Antony said. "We just talked to his agent last night. He just called me and said that after thinking about it that he'd like to see Dr. Andrews and he'd like to have the surgery at the end of March. I spoke with [head trainer] Rick McWane this morning, and he's going to set it up with Dr. Andrews tomorrow."
Zumaya has been plagued by injuries since his rookie season with the Tigers in 2006, as a finger injury forced him to miss 96 games in 2007, a shoulder injury in 2008 cost him 72 games and another shoulder injury in '08 caused him to miss 41 games. He underwent shoulder surgery in '09.
This will be the third operation on his elbow, as he had surgery after fracturing his elbow while pitching for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010, and he had follow-up surgery last year that forced him to miss all of last season.
As of now, Zumaya is still on the club's 40-man roster, as the Twins have until Opening Day to decide to release him or place him on the 60-day disabled list. He's set to earn only $400,000 of the one-year, $850,000 deal he signed this offseason because he failed to make the Opening Day roster.
"We haven't done anything with the roster spot," Antony said. "We don't have to do anything until Opening Day. In fact, you can't place a player on the 60-day DL unless you're making a corresponding move and need that roster spot. The only way he'd be a free agent immediately is if we release him, but we haven't discussed that yet."
Either way, Antony said the Twins are on the hook for the surgery and rehab.
"We're responsible for it," Antony said. "He got hurt pitching for us, so we'll take care of all the medical expenses and rehab and everything."
Gardy sees end of Mayor's Cup in Fort Myers
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins got their first view of JetBlue Park -- the Red Sox's new Spring Training home -- on Sunday, and came away impressed.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he liked how the park is essentially a replica of Fenway Park's dimensions, right down to the Green Monster and Pesky Pole.
"I like it," Gardenhire said. "It's gorgeous, it's actually beautiful. I like the openness of it. I like the wall; that's cool. The clubhouses are gorgeous, they're just a long walk."
But with the Red Sox moving from City of Palms Park in the city of Fort Myers, the Twins and Red Sox now both train in what is technically unincorporated Lee County.
So that's why Gardenhire thinks the battle for the Mayor's Cup -- given annually to the head-to-head series winner during Grapefruit League play -- is over.
"We won it last year, we've got the cup," Gardenhire said. "It's over with. They've got to try to figure out a way to take it back. That doesn't mean they're going to get it back. We've got it, it's ours for good. They can come up with any kind of other cup they want to. It can be plastic -- we've got the right cup."
Since the Mayor's Cup series began in 1993, the Twins have won the cup in 11 of 19 years. The two teams play each other six times this spring.
Chang OK after taking knee to jaw
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Second baseman Ray Chang exited the Twins' 8-3 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday in the top of the seventh inning after being kneed in the jaw trying to break up a double play. Chang said after the game, however, that he felt OK.
Chang, who drew a walk against right-hander Tony Pena, slid hard into second base to try to break up a potential double-play ball hit by Darin Mastroianni. But he collided into second baseman Oscar Tejeda's knee, and left the game as a result.
Chang was attended by Twins trainers after the play, but was able to get up and walk back to the dugout on his own accord.
He told reporters after the game that he felt fine, and he is expected to be day to day.