Brian Dozier is used to playing in front of crowds. Playing baseball — not a guitar.
But there he was Saturday night, strumming along on his acoustic guitar as a Christian rock band played “Amazing Grace” to close the Twins’ first Faith Night promotion at Target Field.
“It took me back to my days in Silky Smooth,” the band he started back at Southern Miss, Dozier said. “They talked me into joining in.”
Dozier’s musical number was the big finish to a promotion that compelled a crowd of roughly 4,500 fans to stay at Target Field until nearly 11 p.m. Saturday. Dozier and four teammates — Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson, Blaine Boyer and Torii Hunter — spoke to the crowd about their religious faith, and several other Twins sat by to watch.
“We’re going to make it an annual thing. I love it, and I’m glad the Twins were excited about it, too,” said Dozier, who proposed the idea to the team’s front office about six weeks ago. He had spoken at a similar event after a game at Comerica Park in Detroit and believed it could be a success in the Twin Cities, too.
“I was thinking if we got 500 or 1,000 people, that’d be great. I just loved it when I saw how many stayed,” Dozier said. And when it was suggested that he take part musically, too? He agreed, despite having no chance to rehearse.
“They said they were going to play in the key of E, but that’s it,” said Dozier, who says he plays the piano every day but picks up his guitar only occasionally. “But if you play music, you know ‘Amazing Grace.’ I’ve practiced it a million times.”
Hughes working back
Phil Hughes was back on a pitcher’s mound Sunday, but with a towel, not a baseball, in his hand.
“It’s just a drill to get used to the motion again,” Hughes said of the dry run. “By the end of the week, I should be actually throwing again.”
Sidelined since an awful Aug. 9 start in Cleveland by a sore disc in his back, Hughes said he feels healthy again and has been playing catch in the outfield for three days. “The big thing is, I can put my pants on without sitting down,” Hughes joked of his bad back. “That was my big hurdle.”
How soon he can face opposing hitters, however, remains a mystery. Hughes will likely throw on Thursday, then stay behind during the Twins’ 10-day road trip in order to build up his arm. Minor league seasons end on Labor Day, so a rehab assignment is unlikely.
“He’s going to have to face some hitters, probably in a simulated situation. And then we’re going to have to figure out how much we have to get him out to pitch to be ready,” manager Paul Molitor said. “The days have mounted now. It’s not like [the injury is] recent.”
• Aaron Hicks, leading off as the DH, singled in five at-bats Sunday during Class AAA Rochester’s 7-0 win over Pawtucket, the first game of the outfielder’s rehab stint as he returns from a hamstring injury.
• The Twins plan to call up a handful of players as soon as rosters expand on Tuesday, rather than wait until Rochester (and potentially Class AA Chattanooga) finishes its season. “To wait another eight days doesn’t make a lot of sense when we have some needs right now,” Molitor said. “We’re going to at least fill a couple of those right away.” A catcher will be added, he said, but it won’t be Josmil Pinto, who hasn’t caught this season because of concussion symptoms. That likely means a return of Eric Fryer, though he must be added to the 40-man roster.