8/24: Dozier's Power; Light Flashes Velocity; Park Goes Under the Knife and More

Good afternoon from the Cumulus studios, where I’m preparing to produce the Andy, Luke and Arif Football Machine — Cold Omaha’s flagship Minnesota Vikings podcast. I was over at Target Field earlier, however, doing some pregame coverage for the Twins. Brandon (@Brandon_Warne) will write the gamer for tonight.

It’s Tyler Duffey (8-9, 5.93 ERA) vs. lefty Matt Boyd (4-2, 3.93 ERA) of the Detroit Tigers. Jorge Polanco is at short; Eduardo Escobar at third:

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“Well, it’s not the first time we’ve done that. It was like earlier in the year when Nunez was playing, there were times when I played Escobar and I put Nunez over at third, and then after a while I just put Escobar at third,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor.

“And with Polanco, I’m still trying to come to some feel of where I think he’s going to be best suited to play up here. I think we’re all hopeful that he finds a way to become a guy who gets a lot of at-bats. It’s gonna be tricky given the mix of players that we have. So I’m just trying to monitor the best I can of where I play people on a given day.

“I have a lot of confidence that Escobar can play third base, I think it’s probably a little better combination of those two guys on that left field, rather than flip-flopping them right now, so that’s kind of the way I’m going.”

Molitor says that Escobar, one of the most outgoing and well-liked players in the Twins locker room, has handled losing the starting shortstop position well.

“As the games pile up where he doesn’t play, it’s tough. He’s faced some circumstances here in the past few years — from a few years ago when Santana got the job to start the season, to playing this year and Nunez kinda taking his job. And then he’s had injuries, and now we have another young player up here that’s getting a good look, so I’m sure it’s tough for him,” he said.

“We see him still play well, I encourage him to be ready and take advantage when he gets at-bats. I kinda know Escy pretty well, and know what he can do, and I don’t know Jorge as well, and so I’m trying to learn more.”

And, of course, Mauer is missing from that list, as Seth Stohs of Twins Daily pointed out on Twitter earlier today.

“Joe is doing okay, but the leg thing is still there,” said Molitor.

“I’ll look at the opportunity here with the left-handed pitchers today and most likely tomorrow, we have one Friday too, but I’m hoping a couple days help him. I know he’s available to pinch-hit.”

Dozier power

Brian Dozier hit his career-high 29th home run yesterday, but he downplays the accomplishment in the video above. He’s reiterated time and again that he’s taking what the pitchers give him, which has led to a strong season after his poor start.

“Part of the maturation process of a player is to downplay your accomplishments. It’s been impressive, to put up the home run totals he has the past few years, and now topping last year’s number last night — and they stole one away in a rain game too,” said Molitor, who routinely downplays his accomplishments as a player.

“And the fact that he is continuing to learn how to maximize what he can do on a baseball field. There’s a lot of different ways he can help you win games, power is certainly one of them. But to let the game kinda come to him offensively and still understand that he can have the power numbers is part of that growth.”

Asked if the second base position was being redefined with more power-hitting players nowadays, Molitor confirmed:

“For a long time, the middle of the infield, you’re looking for defense first and maybe some on-base guys that can run. But now with the game, the offensive trends that we’re seeing, you look for production from anywhere you can get it on the field. You got a guy in the middle — second baseman, shortstop — that can provide some offensive punch, it’s probably the way we’re going with the game,” he said.

“I do probably think now that’s how it’s going. The other guys have done it: Bobby Grich, Jeff Kent — there’s been some people that have filled that role with some power. But I think we’re maybe seeing some more in terms of total numbers at the position than we have in the past.”

Lights out

Jose Berrios took some time with the media to discuss how he’s trying to improve his pitching technique in his rookie season. As you can see above, he not only provides an explanation (without using his translator), but demonstrates using hand motions.

Another rookie, Pat Light, who arrived via the Fernando Abad trade with the Boston Red Sox, showed his high-end velocity yesterday.

“Last night was a pretty good feel, I think. He threw his fastball, he made some nice off-speed pitches, so it was a good first outing. And part of the reason I got him out of there, he probably could have given me one more, but I wanted to keep as many guys available as I could for tonight,” he said.

“I think we just want him to feel like he can challenge guys with that velocity, not relying on trying to trick people.”

Park out for the year

Byung-Ho Park joins a growing number of players that have landed on the DL. He will have surgery to cure tendonitis on the back of his hand.

“He’s okay,” said Molitor. “I’m sure, I think he’s still trying to kinda put into perspective everything that’s happened the past seven, eight months, from coming here to playing and going through his first year here. The ups and downs.”

Asked if it affected his performance in Triple-A, where he finished below the Mendoza Line, Molitor said: “He had a couple stretches there that caught our attention in a good way, and then it kinda reverted back to being a struggle before he finally had to get shut down.”

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