Brian Dozier dived after ground balls and threw himself into third base in an unsuccessful attempt to stretch a double into a triple on Friday.
But the Twins second baseman said he didn’t feel any pain in his right knee until he tried to accelerate out of the batter’s box while grounding out in the seventh inning.
“No, it was definitely coming out of the box my last at-bat,” he said.
It was enough that the Twins sent Dozier out for an magnetic resonance imaging exam to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong with his knee.
“We just wanted to be safe than sorry so we wanted to get it checked,” said Derek Falvey, Twins chief baseball officer. “It’s just a knee contusion or something along those lines. Knowing Brian, he’ll say he’s ready to go and wants to play, but we’ll give him a day and go from there.”
A day? Dozier was ready to pinch hit Saturday.
“I’m going to be available [Saturday] for sure,” said Dozier, who had started every game before Saturday. “It was just the timing of it. I’m definitely available and will be in there tomorrow.”
Dozier has his batting average up to .275 with a home run and two RBI. His five stolen bases tie him for the major league lead. He’s become the fulcrum of the Twins offense and was missed as the Twins faced White Sox lefthander Jose Quintana.
Dozier texted Twins manager Paul Molitor Saturday morning to let him know he was doing fine.
“I think we’re fairly comfortable there’s nothing significant going on there,” Molitor said, “but with the early stages of the year and the wet conditions and all those things, I didn’t want to push the issue today.”
As it turned out, Dozier wasn’t needed.
Polanco is Mr. Cleanup
While Eduardo Escobar replaced Dozier at second, the lineup looked drastically different without No. 2 near the top.
Robbie Grossman led off. Miguel Sano batted third. And Jorge Polanco moved into the fourth spot.
“The lineups have been varied, for sure,” Molitor said. “I had something in mind before Dozier came in last night. You try to figure out a way to use the people who are going to play the best way you can. We all know the lineups aren’t prototypical anymore. There are different ways to maximize who’s in there. You can’t get too overwhelmed by the cleanup hitter.”
Polanco rarely has looked overmatched at the plate in his young Twins career. Molitor likes the quality of Polanco’s at-bats and decided to try him there.
And Polanco came through in the first inning on Saturday with an RBI single to center field. He’s batting .282.
“When you have your hottest hitter you try to find ways to protect him the best way you can,” Molitor said. “Joe [Mauer] hitting behind Miggy, then [Max] Kepler, then [Jason] Castro. Today with the top being changed a little bit with Robbie leading off I tried to assemble it the best way I could where I thought I had some flow from top to bottom.”
• Molitor would have tabbed lefthander Taylor Rogers to enter the game in the ninth inning if Ervin Santana’s pitch count had run too high. But Santana was able to complete his one-hit shutout.
• Kepler entered Saturday only 1-for-10 against lefthanders. But he hit a two-run triple off Quintana in the first inning and followed with a double off him in the third.
• White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier had words with home plate umpire Bill Miller in the fourth inning about a borderline strike call, then left the game after striking out. Frazier has been ill, and the return of flu-like symptoms forced him from the game.