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Twins fire Triple-A manager, hitting coach

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins fired Triple-A Rochester manager Tom Nieto and hitting coach Floyd Rayford on Friday, the first collateral damage from the big club's massively disappointing season.

Nieto, a former Twins catcher, lost at least 90 games in both of his seasons at the helm. He finished with a record of 102-186, including 53-91 in 2011.

"The Minnesota Twins organization would like to thank both Tom and Floyd for their contributions," Twins director of minor league operations Jim Rantz said. "These changes in Rochester are just part of an overall directional change that is being implemented throughout the minor league system this offseason."

With the big club ravaged by injuries this season, the Twins had to dip into the talent at Triple-A early and often just to field a healthy team at Target Field.

Youngsters like infielders Luke Hughes and Trevor Plouffe have logged heavy time in the majors, making it difficult for Nieto to come up with a competitive lineup in Triple-A.

"We haven't given them many opportunities because we've taken all their players," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Friday's game in Detroit.

The Twins have been disturbed by the amount of mental mistakes and careless errors they have seen from their young players, leading Gardenhire to request three more days of spring training be added next year to help the team get back to the fundamentals, their calling card for so many years.

The Twins, who started the season expecting to contend for a third straight AL Central title, started Friday 22 games behind the Tigers and in last place in the division.

"That's what seasons like this do," Gardenhire said. "They end up costing people jobs ... so we all feel responsible."

The team said the rest of the Red Wings staff is expected to return for 2012.

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AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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