Notebook: Gardenhire frustrated with mental errors; Dozier intriguing
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Four hours prior to Saturday's game against the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and other coaches conducted an on-field tutorial of sorts for outfielders Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe.
The drills were mostly throwing-related -- plays at home plate and hitting various cut-off spots.
"Situational stuff," said Gardenhire, who hasn't been pleased with some of the decision-making of his young players.
"You come up and you're firing the ball trying to get lead runners, and the guy who hit the ball ends up at second, and you end up putting big numbers up on the board. So it's about being smart, understanding who's running, where you're playing, how far you have to run to get a ball and whether you're going to be able to throw somebody out rather then just throwing the ball to second base. And then trying to muscle up and letting it fly over the cut-off man. We talked about throwing the ball down and surveying the situation before the ball's hit."
Due mostly to injuries, the Twins have been forced to use a large number of young players this season, many of whom have struggled -- not just offensively, but also in picking up various defensive and baserunning nuances, and other basic, fundamental concepts.
"(Friday) night, Ben Revere up, late in the game," Gardenhire said. "They bring in a left-hander. Two balls and no strikes, and we're down 6-1 and he swings. We've got everybody taking a strike. Everybody's been taking a strike all night, and he wasn't paying attention and he swings. Those things you shouldn't have to talk about, but it's a constant."
The first inning of Saturday night's game provided another great example.
Plouffe drove a ball off the right-field wall for a one-out double, and Joe Mauer followed with a drive to right of his own, pushing Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher back toward the warning track.
When the ball landed over Swisher's head, Plouffe was standing near second base, preparing to tag up. As a result, he was only able to reach third base.
In that scenario, Plouffe is tagging up to make sure he reaches third base if Swisher makes the catch. But if Swisher does make the catch, there would be two outs, meaning Plouffe incorrectly placed more importance on making sure he was at third base with two outs rather than making sure he scored on a double.
Of course, standing on third base with two outs is almost the same as standing on second base with two outs. Barring a wild pitch -- which, funny enough, is how Plouffe wound up scoring -- a runner would need a base hit to score in either scenario anyway.
Danny Valencia made a similar baserunning mistake on the Twins' last road trip.
"Those are the things that we keep doing that are really irritating," Gardenhire said. "We shouldn't have to. We want them to figure it out for themselves and understand the game. That's what we're doing all this for, so we don't have to talk.
"We shouldn't have to talk. They should learn that in the minor leagues."
Dozier generating buzz
With the Twins searching for depth, and possibly future starters, in the middle infield, 24-year-old shortstop Brian Dozier is creating some buzz with his solid performance at Double-A New Britain these days.
Dozier came into the weekend hitting .315/.377/.473 with 26 extra-base hits in 267 plate appearances for New Britain, and he added his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot on Saturday evening. Dozier also rarely strikes out -- only 141 times in 1,154 minor league at-bats (12%).
Gardenhire admitted Friday that he lobbied for Dozier to be promoted when the Twins had a short bench earlier in the week, but the feeling within the organization is that he could use some more seasoning.
And despite September possibly providing a window for the Twins to take an extended look at some younger players, it's unlikely Dozier will be called up, because the Twins aren't forced to add him to the 40-man roster until after the 2012 season.
That doesn't mean he won't be added sooner if the Twins like him in spring training next year.
Dozier has committed only four errors in 43 games at shortstop this season, although some within the organization believe he might be better suited at second base at the higher levels.