Updated: April 1st, 2012 4:32pm
Notebook: Decision to demote Brian Dozier was about playing time

Notebook: Decision to demote Brian Dozier was about playing time

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sitting in the visitor manager's office at JetBlue Park just a few hours after informing Minnesota Twins players of final roster cuts, Ron Gardenhire was asked if Brian Dozier -- one of those final cuts -- was close to MLB-ready.

Gardenhire said, "Well. ..."

He then paused, looked over at pitching coach Rick Anderson, chuckled to himself and said, "Yeah. Let's put it that way."

Gardenhire added -- or, perhaps conceded -- that Dozier "has not had an at-bat above Double-A. He needs a few at-bats. We'll get him some swings at Triple-A and see how everything goes here. He had a heck of a spring, a really good spring. Very impressive."

Gardenhire spoke with a tone that seemed to suggest he wanted to find a way to bring Dozier north. Dozier feels as if he is ready to make the jump from Double-A right now, and it was Gardenhire who pushed for Dozier to be called up late last season.

But general manager Terry Ryan made it clear reassigning Dozier to Triple-A camp on Sunday morning was a mutual decision between he and Gardenhire.

Ryan actually said "it was (Gardenhire's) decision more than mine," but added, "It's never been a discussion item because we both know what's right, and (Gardenhire) knows more than I do because (Dozier) was a part-time player. ...

"Ron knows what it's like to sit over there on the bench. That isn't the right thing for a kid. He knows better than I do about that."

Ryan added, "We're just going to go with Carroll and we're going to go with Casilla. It's as simple as that. (Dozier) just wouldn't play up here enough to make it worth our while, and certainly he is. We're doing this in the best interest of both, actually, player and organization. He needs to play some, and up here he wasn't going to play every day."

By playing solid shortstop defense while hitting .277/.333/.511 with three home runs this spring, Dozier only solidified the notion that he could make the jump from Double-A to the big leagues.

Ryan agreed, to a certain extent, but warned against putting too much stock into spring performances.

"Let's not get too carried away," Ryan said. "You don't get exposed (in spring training), you don't necessarily see all the top-line pitchers, you don't see all the top-line relievers. You've got to be careful a little bit. I know that everything was fine. I don't to get away from the fact that we have high hopes for him, and a few others that were sent out.

"But be careful about anointing people in spring training just because they might have been pretty impressive. That's true. But there are some issues that need to be cleared up, and he's aware of them. ... I don't want to make this a negative thing but there is some work to be done. He had a nice camp."

Dozier will play mostly shortstop with Rochester, with Tsuyoshi Nishioka as his double-play partner at second base.

Credit for Carroll

Dozier credited shortstop Carroll with teaching him the most this spring.

"Probably the biggest thing was my mentor right here, (Carroll)," Dozier said, pointing to Carroll. "He really slows the game down. I think that's the biggest thing with not just myself, but a lot of younger guys, trying to speed the game up.

"The game does speed up, but you have to slow the game down. He taught me a lot of that, with Gardy always giving me little tidbits on the side about slowing the game down, offensively and defensively."

Dozier, of course, is trying to become the Twins' starting shortstop. Carroll is the current starting shortstop.

"I've learned a lot from this guy," Dozier said. "He's one of the best."

Three Triple-A catchers

For now, the Twins will keep three catchers on the Triple-A roster -- an obvious logjam for three guys who have major league track records in Drew Butera, Rene Rivera and J.R. Towles.

"We're going to have to pick and choose there," Ryan said. "We've go to make sure that each one of those guys gets a fair shake, and that's going to be a tough juggling act for Gene Glynn."

Towles was the last remaining catcher in camp, although Gardenhire said Saturday that didn't necessarily indicate he outplayed Butera.

At age 28, Towles owns a Triple-A hitting line of .286/.389/.443 in 556 plate appearances, and that performance has yet to translate over to the major leagues. His offensive ceiling is higher than that of Rivera or Butera.

"They were pleased with how I hit (this spring)," Towles said. "They said, 'Just go down there and outplay everybody and you'll be back.' They don't need to be worried about a lack of work; I'll go down there and do everything I can and hopefully be back."

Today's result

Red Sox 5, Twins 1

Twins' spring record: 18-14.

• RHP Carl Pavano cruised through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth, when he plunked leadoff man Kevin Youkilis and gave up RBI hits to Cory Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles before Alex Burnett took over. Jacoby Ellsbury promptly tripled off Burnett to drive in another run but was gunned out at home plate. In 5 2/3 innings, Pavano allowed four earned runs on seven hits and struck out three.

• The Twins managed only five hits, scoring their lone run on a leadoff homer by Chris Parmelee in the sixth.

Numbers game

6: Notable players ---- Sean Burroughs, Jeff Gray, Matt Maloney, Trevor Plouffe, Luke Hughes, Anthony Swarzak -- who are out of minor league options.

.341/.378/.537: Brian Dinkelman's hitting line this spring. Dinkelman was reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday, but his showing this spring, combined with a solid showing in the big leagues last September, make him a candidate to be recalled at some point. "I think it's exciting to be here to the very last day," Dinkelman said. "I thought I had a good spring, and they said they liked everything I did, playing a couple positions. So it's good. Now I just have to go to Triple-A and continue doing what I do."

2: Australians -- Hughes and Liam Hendriks -- on the Twins' 25-man roster.

Health report

• 2B Alexi Casilla (inflammation behind knee) went through a full workout at Hammond Stadium on Sunday, and he is expected to play in a game at some point over the next couple days.

• RHP Jason Marquis (tending to daughter in New York) is expected to return to the team before Tuesday. The Twins are likely to place Marquis on the bereavement list on Wednesday, which would allow them to keep an extra pitcher (Hendriks, or one of the relievers) for 3 to 7 days.

Overheard

"You have to do enough of the other ones, to where you finally get to tell someone congratulations. It's a little bit better than telling somebody, 'You're going to the minor leagues, we're not going to start with you right away.' So those are the good ones. Those are fun."
-- Gardenhire, on telling Parmelee he had made the 25-man roster.

On deck

Monday: @ Rays, 12:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano vs. LHP David Price.
Tuesday: vs. Rays, 12:05 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson.
Wednesday: vs. Fort Myers, 12:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn vs. TBA.

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
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