After two opposite-field doubles Tuesday and a ground-rule double Wednesday that lodged in a seam between padding on the center field wall, it looks as if Brian Dozier is locked in at the plate.
Not to him.
When Dozier is really locked in, he’s blasting 42 home runs, as he did in 2016. Or he gets hot with a .325 batting average, 25 home runs and a 1.019 on base-plus-slugging percentage, as he did over the final 60 games last season to help drive the Twins to the wild-card round of the postseason.
When he’s locked in, he’s making All-Star Games and is part of the conversation about the best all-around second basemen in the American League.
While he’s starting to emerge from a 21-game skid during which he hit only .181, Dozier isn’t back to doing Dozier-level damage just yet. But he’s happy to see some progress after taking extra batting practice during the recently completed homestand.
“During the course of the year, you get out of sync and stuff,” he said. “Just need a couple things to get back to locked in and feeling good for a little while now.”
Dozier considers locked in to be “a unique term, to me.” That’s when he’s hitting every ball squarely. In truth, hits come off the middle of the bat, by jam shots, from any part of the lumber. A hitter can see the ball well and have nothing to show for it. He can feel uncomfortable and still bloop something in.
There’s been a little bit of everything in Dozier’s streaky season so far. He batted .307 over his first 17 games, then went on a 3-for-40 skid. He looked ready to break out with a 4-for-4, three-RBI performance on May 10 against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. Then he struggled again.
So he will take a hit any way he can get one.
He went 4-for-11 during the three-game series against Detroit, driving the ball well. As the Twins open a three-game series in Seattle on Friday, a Dozier surge could help cure what ails a Twins offense that averaged only 3.33 runs per game during the recent nine-game homestand.
Hits to the opposite field and up the middle are nice, but 51.4 percent of the pitches Dozier hits are pulled. During his slump, he missed pitches he normally bashes. In the past, using the whole field for a bit has helped him get back to what he does best. And he hopes it leads to sustained production this time.
“Give him credit,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said after Dozier’s two doubles Tuesday. “He’s been coming out here. He’s been taking swings. He had the breaking-ball machine out the other day. We all know the majority of his damage is on the pull side. But for him to stay on some pitches deeper in the count and drive some runs in, those were big hits for us.”
Now Dozier looks to build on that. The next sign he has turned things around will come with his next home run — after having gone 50 plate appearances since his last one, on May 11 against the Angels.
He knows he will come around, which is what he tells teammates as the Twins (21-24) try to generate offense, get over .500 and close in on Cleveland in the AL Central.
“Things can change so quick,” Dozier said. “That’s what I tell these guys. Just come to the park and play and don’t worry about where you stand or how people evaluate you or the makeup of this team. Just come out, have fun and compete.”