Twins manager Paul Molitor pointed out that Brian Dozier’s power comes when pulls the ball to left. So the next step for him as a hitter is to learn how to use more of the field.
Dozier looked like he was out to work on that Wednesday when he collected three hits — all up the middle — in the Twins’ 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay at Hammond Stadium. He is 5-for-8 this spring.
“When you can use more of the field, especially deeper in the count, it’s going to be advantageous for him to increase opportunities to get on base,” Molitor said.
Dozier has belted 41 home runs over the last two seasons, but it doesn’t appear as if he wants to settle for being just a middle-infield masher.
“We all know he can hit a fastball,” Molitor said. “We all know he’s got a little bit of pop. Just looking for ways for him to get to the next level. He’s learning the strike zone. Now he is trying to figure out how to be better a little deeper in the count and cut down on some strikeouts and give yourself a chance.”
More on Hicks
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan added his voice to those disappointed in Aaron Hicks for forgetting how many outs there were in the third inning Tuesday against Toronto.
“We’re trying to teach accountability around here, and if you are forgetting how many outs there are, that’s not good in the major leagues,” Ryan said. “That’s not even good for the minor leagues. And if you are relying on the scoreboard operator, shame on him.”
The scoreboard showed one out in the third inning instead of two. So Hicks remained near first base instead of running hard on Eduardo Nunez’s inning-ending flyout.
“It’s on me and knowing how many outs there are and knowing what I need to do to stay in the game,” Hicks said. “It was my mistake and I’ve got to do better.”
Hicks has tested the team in the past. Last year he gave up switch hitting during the season, only to pick it up again a few weeks later. In May 2013, then-manager Ron Gardenhire laid into Hicks when he casually flipped the ball back to the infield after a catch in Boston.
Despite the flare-ups, Ryan said Hicks still has a chance to develop into a top player.
Closer Glen Perkins is expected to throw a bullpen session Thursday to test how much his right side has improved after he has twice experienced discomfort during the past week.
Perkins has treated the injury the past couple of days and is convinced it is minor. But if he has any setbacks on Thursday he will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam to see if there is something serious going on.
But the Twins have been encouraged by the past couple of days of treatment.
“He’s better,” Ryan said. “Just making sure that he’s moving forward. The things they are putting him through, he has responded.”
• Righthander Lester Oliveros, battling slight shoulder soreness, remains on the comeback trail. Ryan said Oliveros is making progress.
• Rain began to fall in the ninth inning, to the point where umpires signaled to halt the game. Suddenly, the rain let up some. So the umpires huddled quickly and signaled for the players to return to the field. Technically, it was a rain delay of 90 seconds.
Phil Hughes is scheduled to start on Thursday against Miami and be followed by Mike Pelfrey, Brian Duensing, Blaine Boyer and J.R. Graham.
La VELLE E. NEAL III