Twins General Manager Terry Ryan flashed his sense of humor when asked Saturday about the progress second baseman Brian Dozier has made this season.
“Progress? You talking about progress?” Ryan replied.
Dozier has been the best Twins player not named Mauer this year after struggling as a rookie in 2012, being demoted and not earning a September callup.
“A year ago today, he was sitting at home because Rochester had been eliminated and we didn’t call him up,” Ryan said. “Now he’s hitting in the No. 3 hole. People are talking about him in the that Gold Glove area at second base. Most of you guys who see us on a daily basis would say he been as consistent as anybody we have had this year.
“I don’t have to tell you about progress.”
Dozier spent last offseason fueled by his exile to the minors and was determined to improve. He has made steps toward establishing himself as a player, and he’s not slowing down this year — making progress on and off the field.
He’s headed on a mission to Nicaragua in November with his fiancée, Renee Hrapmann. Dozier’s idea of sightseeing is a nice hunting trip, but jumped at the idea of going on a mission when Hrapmann approached him about it.
“She loves traveling abroad, and we figured that this year, being a busy offseason with getting married and everything, it would be good to go on a mission instead of just going to Hawaii,” Dozier said. “The Nicaraguan thing came up, and I asked [teammate] Kyle Gibson about it because he does it every year in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s kind of a cool thing. We’re there nine nights and 10 days. Each day, we help build homes for the needy and a hold a Bible study/service at night, so it helps in both ways.”
The two met while students at Southern Mississippi — Hrapmann played soccer — and the two plan to buy a home in Hattiesburg, on the same block Brett Favre lives. They will wed during the first week in January, then head to Maui for a honeymoon.
Dozier is in two other weddings during the offseason — and will take a hunting trip — but plans to jump into preparations for 2014 once he returns from Hawaii. He has gone from being a question mark at shortstop a year ago to a possible solution at second base. At the plate, he is batting .245 with 60 RBI, and his 17 home runs set a season record for Twins second basemen.
“You’d like to see the batting average get up there a little better,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, “but he can handle the bat. He can swing the bat, run, steal some bases. It’s still a process and he’s not over the hump yet. But he has made some strides.”
Dozier has been so impressive with the glove that the Twins are planning a little campaign for him to receive Gold Glove consideration. His plus/minus rating of plus-16 — a number representing the plays the player made above/below that of an average fielder — is second in baseball to Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.
It has shaped up to be a nice year for Dozier.
“It obviously has gone all right for me this year,” he said, “but there’s room for improvement. I still have to get better in some aspects of my game. But, for the most part, I’m happy with the transition to second base.’’