What's somewhat baffling about the decision to option Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Rochester isn't the decision itself. It's that it's going to remind everyone of the circumstances surrounding the decision to bring him to Minnesota in the first place. People will still be stung about the bafflilng lack of value the organization placed on J.J. Hardy, and we'll all be reminded of how finding speed for speed's sake isn't really an answer for anything.
Overlooked will be the fact that this is a decisive decision by the front office at a time where it was expected that they would try to invest a little more time in the one time Japanese league star. The front office didn't try to squeeze him onto the 25-man roster, and they didn't hedge their bets with Nishioka by letting him linger in camp. They made the smart move by allowing the best players to remain in camp to compete for that last bench spot, and there's no doubt that the ability to actually option Nishioka played a factor.
Nishioka got off to a raw start last season by breaking his leg, and like Rob Antony said a few weeks ago, Nishioka probably deserves a mulligan in some respects. But certainly not at the expense of the Major League team's fortunes. In our interview with Antony he also mentioned that Nishioka didn't negotiate to have options removed from his contract. That turned out to be a bonus.
Will Nishioka ever return to the Twins? Certainly not as the player he is today. With this move, it seems like Brian Dinkelman and, perhaps, even Brian Dozier have surpassed Nishioka on the middle infield depth chart.
Optioned to AAA
Tsuyoshi Nishoka, IF
Rene Tosoni, OF
Carlos Gutierrez, RHP
Assigned to minor league camp this morning
Jason Bulger, RHP
Luis Perdomo, RHP
Daryl Thompson, RHP
Esmerling Vasquez, RHP
P.J. Walters, RHP
Chris Herrmann, C
Dan Rolfing, C
Aaron Bates, 1B
Wilkin Ramirez, OF
Things get interesting for these players by still being in camp
Casey Fien, RHP
Jared Burton, RHP
T.J. Towles, C
Sean Burroughs, IF
More on the Nishioka decision
Twins Send Nishioka to AAA Rochester - Joe Christensen, Star Tribune
Nishioka Optioned to AAA - Rhett Bollinger, MLB.com
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Rene Tosoni Among Big Roung of Twins Cuts - Phil Mackey, ESPN 1500