Report: Nishioka to sign with Japanese team

When shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka signed with the Minnesota Twins before the 2011 season, he was hailed as both a batting champion and Gold Glove winner in Japan.

After a dismal two seasons with the Twins that ended in the team granting his request for release last week, Sankei Sports in Japan is reporting that Nishioka has agreed to sign a contract with the Hanshin Tigers back in his home country.

The release of Nishioka, 28, saved the Twins $3.25 million on next season’s payroll. He played eight years for Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines before signing a three-year, $9.25 million deal with the Twins. In the first two years of that contract, Nishioka played in just 68 games last season and three games this season, having spent most of 2012 with Triple-A Rochester. He leaves MLB with a .215 batting average, zero home runs and 20 RBI in 233 at-bats.