Notebook: Brian Dozier made positive impression in leadoff role for Twins
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After making a good first impression, Brian Dozier was back in the leadoff spot for the Minnesota Twins for the second game in a row on Wednesday night at Target Field.
Unfortunately for Dozier and the Twins, the second baseman did not get an opportunity to build on his success as the game was rained out.
Dozier had replaced the struggling Aaron Hicks as the leadoff man for Tuesday's 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels and went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run. That performance brought Dozier's average to only .189 on the season.
Hicks had led off in all 10 of his starts before Tuesday but he was dropped to eighth in the batting order and went 0-for-2 with two walks and two runs. He was only hitting .044 this season and was 2-for-45 entering Wednesday's game.
The Twins beat the Angels in the first two games of the series and had been scheduled to face righthander Tommy Hanson (1-1, 6.55 ERA) in the finale on Wednesday.
"I've hit leadoff pretty much all in the minors," Dozier said. "I'm very comfortable there. I like to get more at-bats, and I think that's the type of hitter I am. I like to see a lot of pitches, and get on base for the big guys behind me. I also like the chance to steal more bags."
Dozier's approach was evident in his first plate appearance Tuesday, when he put together a 10-pitch at-bat against Angels starter Jason Vargas before flying out to deep center.
"To be honest with you, I thought it was a for sure double off the bat," Dozier said. "But at the same time, I really felt comfortable up there."
Dozier's at-bat was a good jumping off point for a Twins offense that chased Vargas after 90 pitches in only 3.1 innings.
Manager Ron Gardenhire liked Dozier's approach in that first at-bat.
"He gave everybody a chance to see a lot of pitches, and got a big hit later," Gardenhire said. "He wasn't overwhelmed by it at all. He's been swinging good lately, and that's why I've put him there. It's not always about hits; it's about the quality at-bats. He's been having those."
Gardenhire, though, made no promises that Dozier will hold onto the leadoff spot.
"We'll just wait and see what happens," Gardenhire said. "I can't predict what will happen. I can only put him down there and do what's right for the players and the ballclub right now. ... My preference is to have Hicks be the leadoff man, and run from there. Right now, we just moved him down a little bit to see if he can have some quality at-bats, not think about too much, and just swing."
Working Arcia into the lineup
Gardenhire made it clear that he would like to get rookie Oswaldo Arcia as many at-bats as possible, likely by giving regular players some days off.
Gardenhire also mentioned that Arcia could serve as the designated hitter. Arcia filled that position in four of his first nine games this season at Rochester.
Arcia was promoted for Monday's game when Ramirez took a day of paternity leave but he was then sent back to Rochester. However, Arcia was again recalled after Tuesday's game when outfielder Darin Mastroianni went on the 15-day disabled list because of a foot injury.
Arcia was hitting .394 with three home runs and eight RBI in 10 games at Rochester.
* Hicks isn't thinking much about being the only natural center fielder on the Twins roster. "That's what I'm used to," Hicks said. "That just comes with the job of playing center field. You've got to be in there everyday to help your team win." With Mastroianni out, Gardenhire said Wilkin Ramirez is his backup center fielder and that Eduardo Escobar is a guy he also wouldn't be afraid to play in center.
* Former Twin Brendan Harris spoke briefly about his return to the major leagues with the Angels. "It took a while," he said, "it was quite a grind. I would have preferred to not have gone down for so long, but I'm happy to have the right opportunity. I'm ecstatic to be a part of the Angels organization. It's still early, and we're still kind of grinding to get it going. I think we're going to be OK." Harris spent time with the Orioles and Rockies Triple-A clubs the past two seasons. He last played in the major leagues in 2010 with the Twins.
* Left fielder Josh Willingham missed the first two games of the Angels series because of flu-like symptoms but he arrived at Target Field feeling better on Wednesday. "His color wasn't completely back last night," Gardenhire said. "But he said he was willing to go in if I needed him to go in, and today he came in ready to go." Willingham ended up getting another day off because of the rain.
* Gardenhire said pitching coach Rick Anderson would re-join the team in Chicago for this weekend's series. Bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar, a longtime pitching coach, has been serving as the Twins' pitching coach with Anderson away. The Twins did not provide a reason for Anderson's absence.
* Gardenhire said Jamey Carroll definitely understands and embraces his role as a utility guy with a group of young understudies. "He's the veteran, and as we go along in the season we'll be moving people around a bit," he said. "He'll get plenty of playing time. He's definitely a professional hitter and player, and he knows the job as a utility player. If anybody can handle it, he can." Carroll has only eight at-bats this season.