Twins second baseman Brian Dozier hit .167 with a .271 on-base percentage through the first 11 games of the season. It was a disappointing start for the All-Star, who struggled at the end of last season as well. Dozier had only one home run, two RBI and two runs scored through April 16.

Since then he has started to turn it around, hitting .254 with a .324 on-base percentage, with three home runs, 12 RBI and 13 runs scored in the past 16 games, including going 6-for-11 with three runs scored in the Twins’ three-game series against the Astros in Houston. He belted a three-run homer, his fourth of the year, in Wednesday’s 16-4 loss.

Last season, Dozier hit .260 with a .331 on-base percentage with 20 home runs, 51 RBI and 70 runs scored in his first 91 games. He became an All-Star for the first time and was generally considered the best second baseman in the American League.

But he hit only .204 with a .274 on-base percentage over the final 66 games of the season with eight home runs, 26 RBI and 31 runs scored. He finished batting .236.

Dozier was asked earlier this year how a player deals with swings in production, and how he can try to correct it when he’s struggling.

“I don’t know if I can pinpoint anything, to be honest with you,” he said about his finish last season. “[Fans don’t] like to see that you rely too much on stats and that kind of thing. I think you look deeper into the way people play the game and they find a way. If they’re not feeling as good or whatever, they find ways to win baseball games — whether it’s getting more [baserunners moved] over or playing better defense or that kind of stuff.

“It’s not all about stats. We won a lot of games and that’s really all I care about. I don’t really care about slumping or anything about that.

“Nothing really changed whatsoever. You just go through times throughout the year where you have to make adjustments and ad-lib a little bit and find ways to get it done. I don’t pinpoint any statistical thing, I’m not into that. I play the game to win and that’s all that matters.”

There’s no doubt that if the Twins want any shot at climbing back into the AL Central or wild-card race, they’re going to need Dozier to continue hitting the way he has the past two weeks.


Gardy likes prospects

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan surprised some people two weeks ago when he announced the hiring of former manager Ron Gardenhire to be an assistant to the GM. So far, Gardenhire has spent time with the team’s rookie squads, which have yet to start the season, and with the Class A squad in Fort Myers, which has some of the best young pitchers in the Twins’ farm system. This week he is in Chattanooga working with the Class AA Lookouts.

Gardenhire watched Fort Myers play games for a week and raved about the talent on the mound.

“I kid you not, I have been down here with Fort Myers and I’ve watched the first five guys of the rotation … and every one of these young men — Kohl Stewart, [Stephen] Gonsalves, Tyler [Jay], Keaton Steele and Felix Jorge — they have all thrown the living fire out of the ball with great velocity, good movement,” Gardenhire said. “They have six legitimate starters down here that just throw it. Then their bullpen is unbelievable with arms, too. Just here in Fort Myers alone, it’s unbelievable watching with all the talent.”

Scouting the minors will basically be Gardenhire’s role, which he’s excited about.

“Basically going through the minor leagues, I’ve already been down with the rookie ball kids, the extended spring kids and with the Fort Myers Miracle,” he said. “I’m going to go see [Class AAA] Rochester and Chattanooga [in May] and then I’ll see Cedar Rapids and the Twins. I’ll see some ballgames up there.

“Basically [I’m] going through the system and talking to the managers and watching the games and seeing if I can help out and get on the field and hit ground balls and all those things. Kind of all the things you like to do.”



• The names one keeps hearing to be the next Gophers athletic director is interim AD Beth Goetz, and if she is not chosen, it’s Northern Illinois AD Sean Frazier, who took his current job in 2013 after being an associate athletic director at Wisconsin. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is pushing for Frazier, who also has a big booster in former Gophers football coach Jerry Kill.

• While the Vikings didn’t renew the fifth-year option they had on wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, special teams coach Mike Priefer is a big supporter of Patterson. He regards the former Tennessee star as the best return specialist in the NFL, and he believes Patterson will come around as a receiver. … Pro Football Weekly’s draft analysis ranked Vikings first-round selection Laquon Treadwell as the seventh-best player available in the draft and didn’t have the other three wide receivers who went ahead of him — Baylor’s Corey Coleman, who went to the Browns; Notre Dame’s Will Fuller, who went to the Texans; and TCU’s Josh Doctson, who went to the Redskins — slated to go in the first round.

• New Timberwolves basketball coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about the future of center Nikola Pekovic, who played in only 12 games this season, amid rumors that he might be finished playing. “We have to see where his health is, and we’ll evaluate all the players on the roster and also look at the health and where they are in terms of availability,” Thibodeau said. “That’s a big part of this, the durability of a player for your team. You know if a guy is injured, obviously he can’t play. We have to see where those guys are.”

• Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys was asked about teams moving their spring practice to sites off-campus, such as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh holding spring break practices in Florida. “Here’s the difficult part in that,” he said. “Really, the fact that so much of our video system — and everything is digital and done with technology and over the Internet — when you go off-site to practice, you lose a lot of those things. … But I think as long as things are going to be opened up and certain rules are going to be allowed, we have to stay in the game and stay up with what other people are doing. It’s definitely something we will look at here over the next two months before we get to fall camp.”


Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.