Souhan: 'He makes it look easy'

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 14, 2012 - 3:33 PM

The manager likes what he sees in his shortstop, hot prospect Brian Dozier.


Shortstop Brian Dozier made a number of defensive stops on Toronto line drives in the Twins' 4-3 victory Sunday.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Brian Dozier will send the ball he hit for his first major league home run and the pink cleats he wore on Mother's Day home to his mom. He may have to keep the thong.

Sunday afternoon, the home-run ball was sealed within a plastic baggie in his locker. A pink thong, a form of hazing designed to honor and humiliate a contributing rookie, was stretched across the back of his chair, a gift from Justin Morneau.

Some big-leaguers' careers don't last much past the hazing stage. After a week in the majors, Dozier should be comfortable planning pranks to play on next year's rookies. He should be around.

In one of the most encouraging developments in a horrific season, Dozier has taken charge of the shortstop position, displaying fielding range, arm strength, agility and the ability to spray line drives all over Target Field.

"He's pretty good,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, in a tone that indicated understatement. "He makes it look pretty easy out there. He gets after the game, studies the game, asks all the right questions. And he's fun to watch.''

Dozier went 2-for-5 Sunday, hit two balls hard, smashed a Ricky Romero changeup for a home run and helped the Twins reach double-digit victories with a 4-3 victory over Toronto. He also made plays to his right and left, and eased concern about his ability to charge the ball.

"Those fields down there are a little different than our fields up here,'' Gardenhire said about Dozier's play in the minors. "Sometimes down there you get a few rough hops. But he was working on it, and he looks pretty good to me.''

The Twins have a long history of delaying the arrival of their best prospects, perhaps because they also have a long history of sending their best prospects back to the minors.

Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana needed extra pit stops in the minors before they became stars. Dozier, who will turn 25 on Tuesday, played at Southern Miss and advanced step by step through the Twins organization.

Here's how he tried to diplomatically address the Twins' extreme patience in his case: "The Twins are really good about, uh, prolonging, or not really prolonging ... they're good with keeping their people in the farm system.''

The Twins' 14-month fall from grace has seen them introducing players to the big leagues on the basis of hope, rather than conviction. Luke Hughes, Chris Parmalee, Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Drew Butera, Ben Revere, Clete Thomas ... it is a long list of players who were given jobs because of organizational desperation rather than on merit.

Dozier plays and carries himself like someone who understands the game and the baseball life. Today, he plans to look for an apartment with a couple of other new Twins. After one week in the big leagues, Dozier might be the one who should consider buying rather than renting.

"He came from a big college and then went through our whole system like we normally do it,'' Gardenhire said. "He has a knack for making some unusual plays. I saw that a few years ago in spring training. I told them I really like this kid. Even last year, I really liked him a lot.''

Dozier thought about his family on Sunday. He called Jan, his mother, "the best mom in the world.'' He said his grandmother, Mimi, died of breast cancer. He said his family was watching at home in Fulton, Miss. And he said his older brother, Clay, a lefthanded pitcher who hurt his arm and wound up playing outfield at Delta State, was his biggest influence.

"He's two years older than me, and growing up he was a better baseball player than I was,'' Dozier said. "He pushed me without even knowing it.''

Dozier tried to call the flower shop in Fulton to order a Mother's Day gift, but no one answered. A hermetically sealed baseball and a set of fluorescent pink cleats should last longer than flowers, anyway.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question