Brian Dozier’s competition for an All-Star berth was narrowed by one Thursday, but the Twins second baseman remains the underdog as balloting heads to the final day Friday.
With Kansas City’s Alex Gordon placed on the disabled list Thursday, fellow outfielder Brett Gardner of the Yankees was added to the AL team, reducing the Final Vote field to four. But MLB announced that Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas remains the leader, with Dozier “closing the gap” but still in second. Voting ends at 3 p.m. Central time Friday, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.
The league does not announce vote totals but said Dozier received more than 4 million votes Wednesday. Presumably, some of them were Packers fans, after Brett Favre posted a brief video on Twitter urging fans to choose Dozier.
“He’s awesome. He’s a good country guy. They asked me if I thought [Favre] would be interested in doing a little video. I said, ‘Absolutely. Brett loves that stuff,’ ” Dozier said of his fellow Hattiesburg, Miss., resident. “Anything to help out another Southern Miss alum. We’ve got to stick together.”
Zach Parise and Ryan Carter of the Wild also recorded videos, as did Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine of the Timberwolves.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Dozier said. “I’m not one who likes all the attention and that stuff, but that’s the way it is, so we might as well have fun with it.”
Still, his current plan is to spend next week at a lake cabin in northern Minnesota with his wife, relaxing on the water. “It’s really peaceful,” he said. “If [an All-Star berth] happens, it happens. If not, I get to spend time with my wife.”
Miguel Sano got the silent treatment from his teammates when he came back to the dugout after his first major league home run Tuesday, his teammates pretending not to notice his accomplishment.
Twins manager Paul Molitor is making sure that doesn’t happen when Sano walks.
The rookie’s on-base percentage stood at .571 Thursday, partly because of his 10 hits in only seven games, but also because he had drawn six walks. He has laid off difficult pitches out of the strike zone, something that most rookies (and plenty of veterans) have trouble doing, and trying to limit his hurricane-force swings to strikes.
Even a 22-year-old understands how valuable that approach is. “The walks are good,” Sano said. “The percentage you get on base, the OPS [on-base plus slugging], they’re really good if you take a lot of walks.”
That’s what Molitor wants him to remember, and he and his coaching staff make it a point to praise him for when he takes ball four.
“I think he understands the reinforcement by the response he’s getting when he takes those big walks,” Molitor said. “People are making sure we acknowledge those things that he’s doing well, so he is affirmed that the approach he is taking the right one.”
It’s not just walks, of course. Molitor is impressed with his entire thought process at the plate.
“He understands you’re not going to live up to [the attention] by seeing how many home runs you can hit on a given day. It’s becoming more of a complete player,” Molitor said. “To see him understand the value of a good at-bat, taking a walk, situational hitting, moving runners, all speaks to the maturity that he has developed over the last couple of years.”
• Molitor, who usually downplays the significance of any single game or series in a 162-game season, admitted that this weekend’s four-game series with Detroit feels unusually important for the Twins. “Yeah, it kind of does,” he said. “You try to keep perspective the best you can. But we’re playing a team that has taken it to us for the most part.” Detroit won seven of nine previous games with the Twins this season, outscoring them 56-23.
• Seventh-round pick Jovani Moran, a high school lefthander from Puerto Rico, signed with the Twins. According to MLB.com, he agreed to a $275,000 bonus, or 26 percent above the recommended $217,400 bonus for his draft slot. The Twins have signed 10 of their top 12 picks.