MINNEAPOLIS — After struggling offensively and defensively in recent weeks, Minnesota Twins shortstop Brian Dozier was optioned Tuesday night to Triple-A Rochester.
To fill Dozier’s spot on the roster, Minnesota will select the contract of shortstop Pedro Florimon from Rochester prior to Wednesday’s game.
Since making his big league debut in May, the 25-year-old Dozier has batted just .234 with six homers and 33 RBI in 84 games. He’s also committed 15 errors at shortstop, the most on the Twins.
“I’d have sent me down, because I haven’t been playing the way I know how to play, and that I’m capable of doing,” Dozier said after receiving the news Tuesday. “It is pretty tough, to be honest with you. But I know I haven’t been playing good baseball, not what I’m capable of playing. To be honest with you, it might be a good thing for me to go down there and get some confidence, especially get my swing back to where it needs to be.”
Dozier was not in the lineup the past two days after making a questionable throw in the 10th inning of Sunday’s game that allowed the go-ahead run to score. But Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Sunday’s play was not the reason for Dozier’s demotion.
“I think it was a lot longer process,” Antony said after Tuesday’s game. “We really were trying to be patient because we know with a young player and a rookie, he’s going to have his ups and downs. But it just got to the point where we felt it was better for him rather than continue to battle through it up here to go down to Rochester to try to get his game in order.”
In the Twins clubhouse after Tuesday’s game Dozier was noticeably disappointed in the about his demotion, his first since being called up on May 7. He spent the 2011 season at both High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain and began 2012 with Rochester. Before his call-up to the Twins, Dozier was hitting .276 with 12 RBI in 28 games with the Red Wings.
But after an impressive first few weeks for Dozier, the Twins’ 2011 Minor League Player of the Year hit a bit of a wall both in the field and at the plate. Dozier was asked if the struggles in one aspect of his game carried over into the other.
“Defense is a big part of my game. I lost a little confidence, to be honest with you, when it seemed like I was making an error every inning,” Dozier said. “I regained a bunch of confidence out there. There’s two parts of the game you have to maintain. I don’t want to be some .230-.240-hitting shortstop. I feel like I can be an offensive threat, and I know I can. That’s the main thing — getting confidence back.”
By selecting Florimon’s contract, the Twins now have 40 players on the 40-man roster. The 25-year-old Florimon has hit .251 with three homers and 27 RBI in 83 games for Rochester this season.
Minnesota knows Florimon might not light the world on fire with his bat, but the Twins like what they’ve seen from him at shortstop.
“He’s done a terrific job defensively,” Antony said. “He’s hitting .251, so he’s not hitting a ton. But at the same time, he’s done a very, very good job defensively. He’s improved a lot offensively over the course of last year to this year.”
The Twins acquired Florimon off waivers from Baltimore in December. He made his major league debut with the Orioles last season, appearing in four games. He went 1-for-8 with a double and two walks in his brief stint in the majors in 2011.
While Minnesota will get a look at yet another shortstop in Florimon, the Twins still believe Dozier can be a contributor to the major league team.
“I believe so, and that’s one of the things — and I told him this — if we didn’t think he could be an every-day guy we could just move him to the bench so we could put him in the utility role and play other guys ahead of him,” Antony said. “We want him to go down and play every day because we still believe he has an opportunity to be a starter for us.”