Updated: March 11th, 2011 3:53pm
Live from Florida, Day 23: Nishioka's family safe after earthquake

Live from Florida, Day 23: Nishioka's family safe after earthquake

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Friday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Today's result

Twins 3, Red Sox 2

Because second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka doesn't usually watch TV or check the internet before arriving to the ballpark, he was initially unaware of the massive earthquake that struck his home country early Friday morning.

"Once I stepped into the clubhouse, all my teammates and staff wondered if my family was alright," Nishioka said through his translator. "That's when I kind of first noticed that a huge earthquake had hit."

Because phone lines throughout most of Japan were down -- both cellular towers and landlines -- Nishioka, and other Japanese reporters in Fort Myers who cover the Twins, had a difficult time reaching family and friends.

Nishioka said he was able to get a hold of his wife Naoko via email shortly after being notified of the earthquake.

"She mentioned how severe the situation was," he said.

Nishioka's wife lives in Tokyo, and his parents live in the Osaka area -- both of which were only mildly affected by the earthquakes.

With the Red Sox in town, and bragging rights for the Mayor's Cup up for grabs, manager Ron Gardenhire had his "A" lineup penciled in -- a unit that included Nishioka, Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, Danny Valencia, Jason Kubel, Alexi Casilla and Justin Morneau, who made his official spring-training debut.

Nishioka said the thought of sitting out "came across my mind at first," but he said, "since I'm here, challenging in the United States as a Japanese person, I understand that I'm in an occupation where I could relay dreams and hope and energy back home to Japan.

"I wanted to be on the field and think about people back home, and give all out on the field to give some of that back."

Dealing perhaps a distracted mind, Nishioka went 1-for-2 with a walk and a single.

• Young ripped a single in two plate appearances in his first official spring training game. On Tuesday, Young drew two walks in a "B" game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

• LHP Brian Duensing allowed two earned runs on five hits in three innings. He struck out four and walked nobody.

• Kubel continued his hot streak, going 2-for-2 with a double.

Numbers game

0: The number of times Jim Thome has worn low socks in a major-league game during his career.

80: The number of times Gardenhire wrote out a lineup card in the second half of last season while thinking about not having Morneau.

"How many games did we play without him last yaer, about 80? Probably about 80 times."

The actual number was 81, including postseason, but who's counting?

Health watch

• OF Delmon Young (turf toe) appears to be back on track after missing the first two weeks of spring training. Along with going 1-for-2 in his spring debut Friday, Young also played four innings in left field. Young will travel with the team to Jupiter on Saturday to play the Cardinals.

"He says his foot feels great, so that's a good thing," Gardenhire said.

• OF Michael Cuddyer (foot) spent time playing long toss on a side field Friday, but a time table for his return is still unknown. Cuddyer did say he notices the hole in his foot, left from the wart removal, has been healing -- always a good sign.

• OF Joe Benson will miss a few days while nursing a strained quad.

Overheard

"This close."
-- Gardenhire, when asked how close catcher Joe Mauer was to catching a bullpen session. Gardenhire held his arms above his head at shoulder-width, showing a vague measurement.

On deck

The Twins travel to Jupiter on Saturday to play the St. Louis Cardinals. Right-hander Carl Pavano is scheduled to start.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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