Sponichi claims that the Minnesota Twins went after Tsuyoshi Nishioka because of their new stadium. GM Bill Smith is quoted as saying, "We've been watching him since the 2006 WBC and we thought he'd be a great fit for this new stadium. Especially because this is a park built for line drives [into the gap]."
Manager Ron Gardenhire also apparently asked for a player that had good speed and could hit for a high average.
Seems Nishioka could be batting out of the 2-hole. Said Nishioka, "I'll gladly take one for the team or work out a walk in order to get on base. More than my personal stats, I want to do what I can to help the team win."
Sponichi reports that while the Pioneer Press' Sports section (print edition) carried a big story about Nishioka on the front page, the Star Tribune's Nick Nelson tempered his excitement by bringing up the following points:
The NPB is "roughly equivalent to Triple-A, and it's possible that even that's being generous."
Nishioka had a 3-year slash line of .287/.361/.427 prior to the 2010 season and how "no one would get excited about seeing them from a Triple-A player."
Three Japanese Golden Gloves "should be taken with a grain of salt" because Kazuo Matsui won four of them and "considered so dreadful in the States that he was moved to second after one season." Akinori Iwamura six Japanese Gold Gloves is also mentioned.
C.J. Nitowski apparently said the following after the Twins signed Nishioka, "AAA & AAAA middle infielders are wishing they were Japanese imports."
FYI: Nitowski spent 2 seasons with the Softbank Hawks and went 3-5 with a 3.99 ERA over 76.2 innings of work.