Twins demote SS Brian Dozier: 'We really were trying to be patient'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins decision-makers have been debating internally for weeks about whether to send shortstop Brian Dozier down for more Triple-A seasoning.
On Tuesday night, the pro-demotion crowd won out.
Dozier was optioned to Triple-A Rochester following an 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers. The Twins purchased the contract of infielder Pedro Florimon to take Dozier's roster spot.
"It is pretty tough, to be honest with you," said Dozier, whose .603 OPS was among the 10 worst in baseball heading into Tuesday. "But I know I haven't been playing good baseball, not what I'm capable of playing.
"To be honest with you, it might be a good thing for me to go down there and get some confidence, especially get my swing back to where it needs to be. The big thing is, I guess, mentally, with the confidence and stuff. Hopefully, I'll get back up here. Just keep working hard down there, that's all you can do."
On the surface, it may appear as if the Twins made the roster move in reaction to Dozier not attempting to throw home or turn a double play in the 10th inning on Sunday in a tied game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dozier initially told reporters, "Every shortstop in the league would have done the same thing," but Twins coaches strongly disagreed. Dozier and manager Ron Gardenhire said down to watch film of the play on Monday, with Gardenhire explaining why throwing to first base wasn't the optimal play in that situation.
Gardenhire elected to defer questions about Dozier's demotion to assistant general manager Rob Antony, who said the decision had more to do with the big picture, as opposed to the play against Tampa.
"I think it was a lot longer process," Antony said. "We really were trying to be patient because we know with a young player and a rookie, he's going to have his ups and downs. But it just got to the point where we felt it was better for him rather than continue to battle through it up here to go down to Rochester to try to get his game in order.
"In the spring, even when he first came up, I think he was a lot more aggressive offensively. He's been taking too many at-bats where he was just taking a lot of defensive swings, even early in the count. It's an opportunity for him to go down and try to get his confidence back offensively and defensively."
Antony added, "There've been certain things that he needs to work on -- cut-offs, positioning, that type of thing. But he also needs to be a little more consistent offensively. He'll have some good games, but he gives away too many at-bats."
Defensively, Dozier's 15 errors are tied for third-most among shortstops. But according to plus/minus data compiled by BillJamesOnline.net, Dozier's defense has only cost the Twins three runs below average in 732 1/3 total innings.
"If we didn't think he could be an every-day guy we could just move him to the bench so we could put him in the utility role and play other guys ahead of him," Antony said. "We want him to go down and play every day because we still believe he has an opportunity to be a starter for us."
To date, Dozier, 25, has played only 28 games in Triple-A during his minor league career. In 2011, he hit .320/.399/.491 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain, en route to being named Twins minor league position player of the year.
Florimon, also 25, is hitting .251/.308/.345 for Rochester this season. He is praised mostly for his above-average infield defense.