/

Nishioka takes pride in glove work

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Kyodo) Former Pacific League batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka was thinking defense first after his first spring exhibition game with the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

In three at-bats against the Boston Red Sox, Nishioka, who captained the Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series title with a .346 average and 206 hits, drove in a run with a hit off compatriot Hideki Okajima on this day.

But it was his work with the leather at second base that Nishioka was pleased with, not the RBI single against one of the best teams in the majors.

“You go through streaks at the plate, but defense is all about consistency, getting the outs when you have the opportunity,” said Nishioka, who won the Japanese gold glove twice at shortstop and once at second. He had been playing short for the Marines sine 2006.

“I want to improve my defense more than ever. I’m glad I did the job on that front,” he said.