Notebook: Brian Dozier says being a spark is 'the way I play the game'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Sitting with the worst record in baseball, the Minnesota Twins (7-20) are in desperate need of a spark.
They're hoping rookie shortstop Brian Dozier can help.
For his major league debut, Dozier was penciled in as the No. 2 hitter against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. He is regarded as a fundamentally sound player who takes professional at-bats, makes a lot of contact and provides a steady hand defensively.
"That's just kind of the way I play the game," said Dozier, who owns a career .305/.379/.416 minor league batting line. "As exciting as this is, making the debut and all that stuff, I want to win baseball games. That's the biggest thing. ... Nothing tastes as good after the game if you don't win. And that's what I want to do. I believe I've always been a winner and I want to come up here and win."
Manager Ron Gardenhire pushed for Dozier to be called up as recently as last summer, and the decision to start Dozier off at Triple-A out of spring training was a difficult one. Dozier felt like he was major league ready, but the Twins elected to give him more seasoning.
Dozier got off to a torrid start in his first two weeks with the Red Wings, but cooled in late April. He rebounded over his last eight games, hitting .310 with a double, four walks and four RBIs.
Dozier credits his bounce-back last week to watching video of his mechanics with hitting coach Tom Brunansky. He credits his hot start with having somewhat of a chip on his shoulder.
"Obviously that has a lot to do with it," Dozier said. "Anytime you get sent down from anything -- to not (be able) to say you're the best at what you do -- you always have a chip on your shoulder. Everyone carries that with them, no matter what it is, because their goal is to be a starter in the big leagues. That's what we play the game for."
Conversation with Carroll
Dozier will start at shortstop for the foreseeable future, which puts Jamey Carroll's status in flux.
Carroll started at second base alongside shortstop Dozier on Monday, but it's likely he will fill the Twins' super-utility role.
"We had a nice talk today," Gardenhire said. "I wasn't out there (in Seattle) when all of this went down, so it's a conversation I was waiting to have. He came into the office and we talked a little bit about where we're at and what we're trying to do here.
"He's done it his whole career. He's played everywhere. He's played very well at shortstop for us, and I wanted him to know that. This is not a demotion, this is not a knock against him. This young man has played great shortstop out there. Our best player down there was Mr. Dozier, and we bring him up and have to make adjustments up here. So Alexi and Jamey, they'll all move around. Even some third base too."
Carroll came into Monday's game hitting just .208/.304/.238, but he has provided a steady hand defensively at shortstop -- something the Twins lacked in 2011.
Diamond learned from Pavano
Speaking of looking for a spark, the Twins will also turn to left-hander Scott Diamond to help improve a starting rotation that has so far been the worst in baseball.
The task is a tall one for Diamond, who struggled in seven major league starts last season (5.08 ERA, 19 K's, 17 BBs in 39 innings).
Diamond said he learned from his time in the big leagues last year, which helped him post a 2.60 ERA with 26 strikeouts and only seven walks in 34 2/3 innings at Triple-A to start this season.
"I remember talking to (Carl) Pavano a lot last year about how he works deep into games, and so I tried to take that same mentality into every game I approached this year," Diamond said. "I tried to keep it as simple as I could and not let the game speed up on me. I was just able to continue to throw strikes and attack hitters."
The Twins have given Diamond no indication as to how long his big-league stay will last, but it's hard to imagine him getting bumped from the rotation if he pitches well.
- Alex Wimmers is rehabbing his partially torn elbow ligament in Fort Myers. The Twins and Wimmers are hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery.
- Josh Willingham came down with a flu bug. His availability for Monday's game was in question during batting practice.