The Minnesota Twins have mercifully ended their experiment with Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, releasing him in just his second year with the team. But it’s not the fact that the Twins have cut Nishioka that is news worthy, it’s the fact that he was given the Twins back the money they owe him as an apology for his poor play.
In this day an age of entitled athletes, Nishioka waived the $3 million the Twins owe him on his remaining contract and released a statement publicly apologizing to the ballclub for his giving them only half a season worth of baseball after the Twins won the rights to sign Nishioka in a $7 million bidding war with other baseball front offices.
“I would like to thank the Twins organization for helping me fulfill my dream of playing in Major League Baseball,” Nishioka said. “I take full responsibility for my performance which was below my own expectations. At this time, I have made the decision that it is time to part ways. I have no regrets and know that only through struggle can a person grow stronger. I appreciate all the support the team and the fans in Minnesota and Rochester have shown me.”
It has been a rough run for Nishioka, who has shown an incredible struggle with adjusting to American baseball. He broke his leg in his first week in the MLB when New York Yankees slugger Nick Swisher slid into him at second base. After missing a large portion of his rookie campaign, Nishioka became renowned in Minnesota for his errors more so than any other aspect of his game. After returning in June 2011, Nishioka committed 12 errors and lost the faith of pitchers in the Twins rotation.
After signing Nishioka to a three-year, $9.25 million the Twins had high expectations for a guy who hit .346 and won a Gold Glove equivalent while playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Nishioka isn’t sure of his future, but he never fully adjusted to baseball state-side and all signs point to a return to Japan. But unlike most baseball players these days, at least Nishioka is humble in his failure and is going out with class. He may have failed at baseball but he can be used as an example for underperforming athletes everywhere.