One thing that the Twins’ 103-loss breakdown didn’t damage: Brian Dozier’s definition of success.
All the talk about taking incremental steps toward contention, about establishing the rookies and living with losses — Dozier doesn’t want to hear it. The Twins returned to Target Field on Sunday for their final workout before the 2017 season begins, and their second baseman made it clear his intention is to be playing games here in October, too.
“I don’t buy into the fact that we’re rebuilding. I don’t buy into the fact that a winning record and still not getting to the postseason could be considered a successful year,” Dozier said emphatically before the Twins took their home field to prepare for the 57th Opening Day in franchise history. Pointing at manager Paul Molitor, Dozier said “[he] is a world champions. Guys have been to the playoffs. I’ve never been. … I promise you when we take the field, there’s nothing short of the goal of reaching the postseason. And if you don’t, then I don’t consider it a success.”
That’s bold talk, given that the Twins finished 35 1/2 games behind Cleveland last year, but it’s the magic of Opening Day, too. The Twins may have failed to win 60 games in a full season for the first time ever last summer, but they believe they’re a much improved team in 2017.
How that talent will line up remains unknown until Monday, and Molitor wouldn’t even offer a sneak preview of his lineup. All four left-handed hitters will be in the batting order against Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy, but the manager said he wants to explain his lineup to the players before publishing it for the public.
The Twins’ focus is on a good start, something that’s eluded them lately. They have lost on Opening Day for eight consecutive seasons, and last year stumbled to an 0-9 start that they never recovered from.
Like his players, Molitor believes this season will be different. He hopes to show it before a sellout crowd Monday (3:10 p.m.)
“There hasn’t bene a lot to cheer about, at least very consistently for awhile. We understand our fans are looking for hope,” Molitor said. His advice to fans? “Be open-minded. Come out and see us. Hopefully they’ll get to see us get off to a good start tomorrow.”