FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - Count Carl Pavano among the Minnesota Twins who are impressed with Japanese newcomer Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
Pavano threw four sharp innings and Nishioka showed off his quickness on a nice double play during the Minnesota Twins' 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Pavano, expected to started on opening day, limited the Pirates to two hits and a walk. The right-hander, who returned to Minnesota over the winter for a $16.5 million, two-year contract, also struck out two.
``I felt healthy,' he said. ``I'm feeling good. There's always things to get better at. I'll keep focusing on those things. I'm focusing on my fastball. My changeup needs a little bit of work.'
Nishioka, who signed a three-year contract with Minnesota over the winter, fielded Lyle Overbay's bouncer up the middle in the fourth and threw to shortstop Alexi Casilla, who touched second and completed the double play with a throw to first baseman Matt Tolbert.
``Very good,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the second baseman's effort. ``That's kind of what you're hoping to see. We've talked about his athleticism. That's the athleticism we're talking about. I think with those two both out there, you'll see quite a few plays like that.'
Nishioka hit second in the lineup, his projected spot when the regular season begins, and went 1 for 2 to boost his spring average to .294. He hit .346 with 11 homers, 59 RBIs and 22 stolen bases last season for Chiba Lotte in Japan.
``He's definitely quick,' Pavano said. ``He's got great range. He bounces back and forth. And he's starting to swing the bat pretty well.'
Pirates starter Brian Burres, a lefty who could begin the season as a long reliever, pitched two hitless innings.
``He's sinking the ball and working the bottom of the strike zone very well,' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ``He has been very aggressive with all his pitches. He did everything that we asked him to do.
``He's a flexible guy, a versatile guy. He's athletic. There's a lot to like about him.'
Burres went 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA last season in 20 appearances for the Pirates, including 13 starts. He said he just wants to make the team.
``I would say any time you can offer multiple roles for yourself, it's an asset to you,' he said. ``We'll see what they have in store for me. Right now, I'm just trying to do the best I can with the opportunities they give me.'
Overbay homered for Pittsburgh, and Andrew Lambo had two RBIs.
The Associated Press News Service
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