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Updated: August 15th, 2012 11:51am
Gardenhire 'liked having (Dozier) here,' but move is 'understandable'

Gardenhire 'liked having (Dozier) here,' but move is 'understandable'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- On Tuesday night, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire deferred all questions about Brian Dozier's demotion to assistant GM Rob Antony.

Gardenhire appeared upset with the decision, saying, "I don't want to get into it, it's a little harder for me."

On Wednesday, Gardenhire clarified his stance on the roster move, which was an often-debated topic within the organization over the past few weeks.

"I like the guy a lot. I think he's a pretty good player," Gardenhire said. "I liked having him here, so it was pretty hard -- he's been here this many games -- to send him out, for me, but it's also understandable. He needs to go get some confidence in his swing back, which will carry over probably to his defense."

Gardenhire has vouched for Dozier on multiple occasions over the past calendar year. He felt Dozier was ready for a call-up late last season while the shortstop was tearing up Double-A, he also felt as if Dozier was major-league ready at the end of spring training.

Gardenhire spent extra time with Dozier earlier this week breaking down video and discussing the bases-loaded groundball from the 10th inning of Sunday's loss to the Rays.

"I think we've all seen him a little overwhelmed over the last few days after that play (on Sunday) and all the talk about it," Gardenhire said. "But even before that, that's not the reason we sent him down. That's just another one in the line of him needing to go relax a little bit, get his swing back to where it was. He was frustrated with it. You could see at times carrying that swing out there to play defense."

Perhaps the most telling numbers for Dozier are his 58 strikeouts to only 16 walks. In the minor leagues he walked (151) nearly as often as he struck out (168).

"He just wasn't comfortable," Gardenhire said. "He felt like he had to take swings at just about everything. ... A lot of chasing."

Dozier also ranked among the team leaders in pop-ups according to batted ball data tracked by Major League Baseball, although he had been working closely with hitting coach Joe Vavra to help straighten out and drive the ball to opposite field more often.

"He just got a little long," Gardenhire said. "He'd basically end up at times with a two-part swing -- his front side would go one way and his backside would still be taking it back, and you'd get a loop. You saw a lot of balls going in the air. ...

"It got where he wasn't able to handle the outer half of the plate very much at all, and that's not him. I've seen him cover the plate. I saw him all spring cover the plate. So he's just got some bad mechanics up there, and then the whole stress of the thing probably just wore him out."

Dozier will join the Rochester Red Wings beginning Wednesday for the final five games on their current homestand. Rochester has 17 games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Brian Dozier, Ron Gardenhire
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