Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka breaks leg on hard slide

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Minnesota Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka of Japan broke his left leg on a hard slide by New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher during their game Thursday.

The Twins, who posted a winning bid of $5 million in the off-season for exclusive negotiating rights to the 26-year-old switch-hitter, gave no estimate of when Nishioka might be able to return to action.

Sitting in the clubhouse after the game by a pair of crutches, Nishioka described Swisher's slide as "a "professional play," and Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said he believed there was no intent to injure the player.

"Swisher's a clean player. It was a good slide," Gardenhire told reporters.

Swisher contacted Nishioka in the clubhouse to see how he was. "I wasn't trying to hurt him. I was trying to break up the double play," Swisher said. "I didn't mean to do it."

Asked about hearing from Swisher, Nishioka said: "He didn't need (to call). I appreciate the call."

Swisher was on first base when Mark Teixeira hit a grounder to third baseman Danny Valencia, who threw to second. Nishioka moved to the infield side of the base after catching the throw and was hit in the lower leg by the sliding Swisher's raised left leg.

"It's pretty sad," Gardenhire said. "We have to look at it as a minor setback. We'll get him better, we'll be okay."

(Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Julian Linden)