LAKELAND, FLA. - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been as impressed as anybody by shortstop Brian Dozier this spring, but it sounds as if the team intends to start him at Class AAA this year -- unless Jamey Carroll or Alexi Casilla gets injured.
"[Dozier's] not going to sit on the bench when we signed Jamey Carroll, I'll tell you that," Gardenhire said. "He's not going to sit up here and be a utility man. He's too good. ... But to play [every day]? Absolutely. I wouldn't be afraid of that at all, to tell you the truth."
Dozier, 24, isn't on the 40-man roster yet, which will actually extend his time in major league camp. Teams usually send prospects on the 40-man roster to the minors in mid-March, to avoid having to put them on the major league disabled list if they get injured.
"If [Dozier] were on the roster, there's a good chance he would be down there right now because they wouldn't allow me to keep him," Gardenhire said.
Dozier, who is batting .273, has yet to play above Class AA, but on Monday, General Manager Terry Ryan cited Chuck Knoblauch as an example of a player who skipped right from Double-A to the majors.
"That's why we're going to wait another couple weeks and see what happens here," Gardenhire said. "See what happens out there in the middle, and see how we get through things. It could change in one second here. It could change with a ground ball off the lips, just like you saw with [Tigers] third baseman [Miguel Cabrera, who had a one-hop smash fracture a bone under his right eye Monday]."