Fielding struggles hold back Dozier's progress

BY foxsports • July 16, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — After coming onto the scene strongly during his first month in the majors, Minnesota Twins shortstop Brian Dozier has come back to reality a bit.

The dazzling plays at shortstop he made in May have turned into misplays of routine grounders in July. His early tear at the plate -- he batted .279 with eight RBI and a pair of homers in his first 14 games -- has slowed down as well. He hit just .231 with five extra-base hits and seven RBI in 25 games in June.

It's all been a learning process for the 25-year-old Dozier, who the Twins are still hoping can be their answer as an everyday shortstop. He showed flashes this weekend, hitting his fourth home run of the season on Saturday against Oakland and picking up a pair of hits in Sunday's series finale.

Defensively, though, there are things that manager Ron Gardenhire would like to see Dozier improve on.

"He's had his moments where he's OK. I still think he gets sloppy with his glove a little bit too much," Gardenhire said Sunday. "He makes plays a lot harder than they should be. He plays really deep, and we've had a lot of conversations about shortening the field up a little bit."

Dozier was not charged with an error in Friday's game against the Athletics, but he easily could have as he didn't cleanly field a ground ball hit to shortstop by Oakland's Jemile Weeks. It was ruled a hit, but Gardenhire said after the game that he felt it should have been an error.

That miscue, plus a fielding error by center fielder Denard Span, resulted in a four-run inning for Oakland against left-hander Francisco Liriano.

"(At) double play depth, there've been balls that should be routine that he's coming running in five yards to catch," Gardenhire said. "You're too deep, and when you explain that to him, he starts that way but then he slowly drifts back. He'll tell you he feels like he's too close to the hitter. Well, he's got to make that adjustment. It's been a process there because he hasn't finished that part of it off."

Still, Gardenhire said he likes what he's seen from Dozier's bat. Dozier has hit at every level of the minor leagues -- he batted .318 with 34 RBI in 78 games at Double-A New Britain last year and was hitting .276 for Triple-A Rochester this year before his promotion to the majors.

As Dozier continues to work on his defense, though, Gardenhire said the young shortstop can't bring his fielding struggles to the plate with him.

"I think you saw (Saturday) he can pop a baseball," Gardenhire said. "There's issues with his swing. He's hitting way too many balls in the air. He gets long and kind of casts his bat out and goes around the ball an awful lot. . . . He'll get there. It's just a process. It doesn't happen overnight."

Parise throws out first pitch: New Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise was honored at Target Field before Sunday's game when he was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Donning a No. 11 Twins jersey with his last name on the back, Parise fired a strike from the mound to Twins first baseman (and Vancouver Canucks fan) Justin Morneau. Before throwing out the first pitch, Parise spent time with Twins catcher and fellow Minnesota native Joe Mauer as well as Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire.

The Wild signed Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million deals on July 4 as the two most highly touted NHL free agents. Parise grew up in Minnesota and played for Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault before attending the University of North Dakota. He spent seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils before returning to Minnesota to play for the Wild. Parise was also a member of the United States men's hockey team in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Perdomo is Minor League Player of the Week: Twins minor league pitcher Luis Perdomo was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the week of July 8-14. Perdomo, a right-handed reliever with Triple-A Rochester, pitched 2-1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen this past week. He struck out two and did not allow a hit or walk as he picked up a pair of saves for the Red Wings.

Perdomo, 28, appeared in 36 total games with the San Diego Padres from 2009-10. He began the 2012 season with Double-A New Britain and pitched in 26 games for the Rock Cats before he was promoted to Triple-A Rochester. In eight games with the Red Wings prior to Sunday, Perdomo had five saves and a 1.50 ERA.

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