KANSAS CITY -- The Twins received an encouraging report on infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka when X-rays on his fractured left fibula indicated Nishioka was on track in his recovery.
"Nishioka's X-rays showed good healing," assistant trainer Dave Pruemer said. "We're progressing him to more land-based exercises and baseball activities."
Pruemer said there is no timetable yet for Nishioka's return.
"The next few days, we'll see how it goes," Pruemer said.
Nishioka has been hitting in the cage and throwing, but has not taken ground balls.
"No heavy cutting yet," Pruemer said. "We'll progress to that probably in the next four to five days."
Gardenhire emphasizing baserunning basics
KANSAS CITY -- The need for sound baserunning was a hot topic of conversation in the Twins' clubhouse late Friday night and again on Saturday.
In a 4-3 loss to the Royals in the series opener, both Jason Kubel and Danny Valencia failed to score from second on singles to the outfield that manager Ron Gardenhire felt should have brought in both runners.
Kubel and Valencia each had trouble picking up the ball and hesitated for fear of being doubled off second base. Also, Rene Tosoni failed to take second when he singled and Royals center fielder Melky Cabrera air-mailed a throw to the plate with no cutoff man.
"We have to run the bases," Gardenhire said. "When you aren't scoring runs, you have to do all the little things."
The biggest baserunning disappointment for Gardenhire came in the sixth inning with the Twins ahead 3-1 and Valencia at second with one out. Tosoni singled to center and, with Cabrera missing the cutoff man, Gardenhire felt it should have been a run in and another man at second. But Valencia stopped at third and Tosoni stopped at first. Both runners made mistakes on the same play, according to the Minnesota manager.
"When you are supposed to score, you have to read the ball and we haven't been doing that," Gardenhire said. "We scored three runs and we should have scored five or six."
The Twins tried to force the issue with a squeeze play in the same inning, but that didn't work either. Gardenhire put on a suicide squeeze with Valencia breaking down the line and the Royals pitched out, resulting in an easy rundown out.
"Everybody had the sign," Gardenhire said. "[The Royals] did, too. Theirs worked better than ours."
Twins hope Thome's return will key power
KANSAS CITY -- The Twins went into Saturday's game against the Royals having scored just 80 runs, the fewest in the American League. But they were hoping to get a power surge with the return of Jim Thome, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter after battling back from a strained oblique.
"He's good to go," assistant trainer Dave Pruemer said.
The Twins were careful not to have Thome return too soon for fear of re-aggravating the oblique and creating a lengthy absence. Thome let the bat go with full force in regular batting practice on Friday and again on Saturday.
Thome was hitting .226 with two homers and seven runs batted in through 53 at-bats. Manager Ron Gardenhire put Thome in the No. 6 slot against right-hander Sean O'Sullivan.
KANSAS CITY -- When Danny Valencia was hung up between third and home on a botched suicide squeeze play Friday night, it marked the first time all year the Twins have had a runner caught stealing. Minnesota had been 11-for-11 in steal attempts.
The solo homer by Luke Hughes on Friday was the second of his Major League career. Hughes homered on April 28, 2010, in his first-ever Major League at-bat.
Shortstop Alexi Casilla, who failed to make a key defensive play in the eighth inning Friday and is hitting just .167, was not in the lineup Saturday. Matt Tolbert drew the start at shortstop. Manager Ron Gardenhire is hopeful that Casilla will soon pick it up both offensively and defensively. "Alexi has had a little bit of a rough start, but he's very athletic and hopefully he'll get better," Gardenhire said.
Veteran right-hander Carl Pavano will be trying to reach the 100-win milestone when he takes the mound Sunday.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.