Marlins win rain-shortened game vs. Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Brian Dozier went to Venezuela during the offseason to learn how to better play second base.

He’s closing in on completing the mission, with a spot in Minnesota’s opening-day lineup there for the taking.

Dozier hit his first home run of spring
training for the Twins during a 6-2, rain-shortened loss to the Miami
Marlins on Monday.

In a game cut to 5 1-2 innings, Dozier
hit a two-run drive in the first off Nathan Eovaldi. Dozier is batting
.243 with five RBIs this spring and in position to start at second base
this season for the Twins after failing to become the everyday shortstop
last year.

“At second base, he’s doing great,”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And when he’s hitting, he’s a lot
better right now. His swing is looking really nice now. He’s not
dragging his bat early. He was dragging it on fly balls that were going
up in the air. So he’s doing fine. Playing the game, he’s more relaxed.
He’s looking more confident.”

The 25-year-old Dozier hit .234 in 316
at-bats over 83 games last season, his first stint in the majors. With
the slick-fielding Pedro Florimon emerging late in the season as the
front-runner at shortstop for 2013, Dozier was told to focus working at
second base. An eighth-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft out of
Southern Mississippi, he rose through the Twins system primarily as a
shortstop.

“This offseason was a big offseason for
me with the position change,” Dozier said. “I went to Venezuela and
worked some things out at second base. I’m a lot more comfortable there
now. I’m still fighting for the job. The biggest thing is to win the
job. Right now, that’s my main focus. Once that picture has been
established, I can go out there and see how I do. I’m not there yet. Not
yet at all.”

Eovaldi, slated to be the Marlins’ No. 2
starter, allowed five hits in a five-inning complete game. He struck
out three and walked two.

“After the first inning, I was able to
regroup,” Eovaldi said. “I’m not working on anything specifically right
now. I’m just going out there and attacking them. The curveball felt
really good. I threw some good changeups, working ahead of the counts.”

Marlins prospect Christian Yelich went 2
for 3 with a home run, his fifth of spring training. Gorkys Hernandez,
competing for Miami’s center-field job with Chris Coughlin and Justin
Ruggiano, went 1 for 2 with two RBIs.

“I think they’ll come down to the wire,
probably,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the camp competitions,
including the utility infielder spot and the fifth starter. “I want to
give these guys as many at-bats as we possibly can and take the guys we
feel are best suited for those roles.”

Twins starter Kevin Correia gave up
five runs, five hits and two walks in four innings. Minnesota’s Joe
Mauer, in his first game back from the World Baseball Classic, went 2
for 3 and increased his average to .429.

NOTES:
Twins LHP Scott Diamond remains on track to join the Twins rotation on
April 12, less than two weeks after the season opener. He threw 24
pitches over two innings in a minor league game on Monday. Diamond has
been recovering from offseason surgery to remove bone chips from the
elbow. … Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe, who has been out with a calf strain,
is slated to get three or four at-bats during a minor league game on
Tuesday.