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Updated: August 10th, 2012 8:16pm
'There's tons of debate' over whether Brian Dozier should be demoted

'There's tons of debate' over whether Brian Dozier should be demoted

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Minnesota Twins had more middle-infield depth, it's likely Brian Dozier would have been sent back to Triple-A Rochester by now.

As it stands -- especially with Tsuyoshi Nishioka's meltdown in Cleveland -- Dozier will stay.

But the situation is fluid.

"There's tons of debate both ways," manager Ron Gardenhire said in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Friday. "I like the kid, I like way he goes about it, I like the way he plays. He has a lot of moments where it looks like he's not quite there, but honestly I think since we've been talking about it he's been getting after it pretty good."

Dozier, 25, was named Twins minor league position player of the year last offseason after hitting .320/.399/.491 with 64 extra-base hits between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.

He has shown some flashes of potential offensively, but for the most part he has floundered, hitting just .235/.274/.327 with five home runs in his 329 plate appearances. Dozier's .268 weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the seventh-worst mark among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances.

Defensively, only two shortstops have made more errors than Dozier (15), although he has made up for some of the sloppiness by showing adequate range. Some baseball evaluators see him more as a second baseman or a utility player.

Considering Dozier made his big-league debut earlier this year after playing just 28 games above the Double-A level, it's possible more Triple-A seasoning would help him in the long run.

"In Cleveland and Boston he was really getting after it pretty good. He's had some pretty good ballgames," Gardenhire said. "He's still going to have some lapses, but that's been our debate. With all young players you always wonder should we send them down there, let him get some at-bats, get some confidence back? There's things that he's got to figure out with his swing. He's got to learn to hit the ball the other way. He's got to learn to take pitches and take these walks like he was doing in the minor leagues. ...

"I don't know if it's better to go down there and do it or stay up here. That's what we've been talking about off and on with lots of our young guys. We always try to figure that out. But I like the guy. I like his athleticism at shortstop."

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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