Leading Off with Brian Dozier! 19 Apr 13

Brian Dozier hitting a home run at spring training.

 Photos and Stories by Gordy Jones

Brian Dozier has been playing a stellar second base — diving and showing good range, making some great plays in the field. This is how he played in Florida – and it has carried over from spring training.

Dozier glides around third after hitting one out.

I asked Brian: If he were to write the lineup, where he would put himself? In the last couple of years, he has been all over the board: bottom, middle, and recently leadoff. He confidently told me, “I’d put myself at either one or two. When Gardy puts me at one, I feel really comfortable – I led off the majority of the time in the minor leagues. Yeah, one or two – I feel that’s the kind of hitter I am. With the lineup that we have, and the middle of our lineup, as good as those guys are – to get on base for them is really a good thing.” I wondered if he has a different mental approach at the plate when he is batting at various spots in the lineup. “Wherever you’re at, you always want to try and put together a quality at-bat; that’s the number-one thing. But yes, it does change a little bit. As a leadoff hitter, you try and see as many pitches as you can — especially at the start of the game — and try to get deep into the count to get to their bullpen. And as a leadoff hitter, you get more at-bats – and I like to hit more. You can steal more bases, too. Leadoff comes with a lot of different things that I really like.”

Brian Dozier has been making plays in the field.

Brian appears to be in his best physical condition since I’ve known him. I asked him if he had a chance to take any time off over the winter. First he said, “No, no,” then qualified his answer with: “I took a few weeks off to rest the body. You have to — mentally and physically. But at the same time, in the off-season nowadays you have to make sure you’re in shape and you get ready for spring training, rather than getting in shape at spring training. You have to get after it! Yes, I did that; I did a lot of that in the off-season.”

I asked him what he ate to reach this pinnacle of health. He laughed and said, “I eat too much, sometimes. Well, that’s what my mom says. But I burn so many calories that it’s good.”

Joe Mauer turned 30 on April 19. Happy Birthday Joe!

Another thing he does after the season is hunt. “Yeah, I’m a big hunter and it works out well. Off-season is hunting season. Right after the season I spend a lot of time planting fields and food plots, as we like to say in the South. I like to get everything ready for the hunting season.”

We were discussing his winter activities when he reminded me that he is an avid golfer, and spends a lot of his off-time on the links. “Yes, I’m a big golfer, too. If I have any chance to get out on the course, I will.” Then he laughed and said, “I guess I have a lot of hobbies. I’m a big music guy, too; I really enjoy playing the piano.” I was surprised and asked him how long he has played. “I began playing my freshman year of college,” he said. “That’s when I picked up the guitar, too.” He was wearing a happy and proud grin as he continued, “Music is a big thing for me when I get away from the field.”

Brian advises young people to play many sports, and to be involved in a wide variety of activities: “Get out and do it all! Learn all that you can!”

Justin and Joe taping a PSA for the people in Boston

Brian teaches this by example. He is a nice guy, humble but confident, and he’s a lot of fun to be around. He attends many charity events, and although each player’s personality is completely different, he fits the classic Twins’ mold when it comes to being a good guy, the kind of teammate any ballplayer would want to have.

Standing Tall!

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau volunteered to film a Public Service Announcement that will be shown in the Boston area. In the 30-second video, they say something to the effect that the people of Minnesota and the Minnesota Twins stand tall for the people of Boston after the senseless tragedy at the Boston Marathon.