When Nick Swisher slid hard into second base last week and broke Minnesota Twins rookie Tsuyoshi Nishioka's leg, the pundits in baseball circles generally wrote it off as a gritty play. But considering the historical precedent of Japanese middle infielders suffering major injuries in similar fashion, Nishioka's situation suggests an alarming trend.
There have been four Japanese middle infielders to play in the major leagues. Three of them—Nishioka, Kazuo Matsui and Akinori Iwamura—spent significant time on the disabled list as a result of an opponent's aggressive slide. The fourth, Tadahito Iguchi, was upended by vicious take-out slides in 2006 and 2007 but escaped serious injury.