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Dozier blossoming, but Twins hoping for more improvement

Brian Dozier has provided some pop at the top of the lineup and a good glove at second base. Minnesota Twins brass hope he can now improve his batting average. USA Today Sports Photo

MINNEAPOLIS — Second baseman Brian Dozier has proven he can hit the long ball.

His four home runs put him among the American League leaders in that category over the first three weeks of the season. Last season, he hit 18 homers — the most for a regular second baseman in franchise history.

But the Twins view him as more than just a power threat. They hope he can one day become a guy who can be counted on to hit for average too. He’s currently hitting .180 through the first 13 games of the season.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see him get that average up and get on base a little more as the leadoff hitter,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Home runs are going to come with his swing — it’s short, it’s to the ball and when they make a mistake with the breaking ball, he can pull the ball. In this ballpark, if you can pull the ball like that, you can do some things.”

Where the Twins have already seen a lot of improvement from Dozier is in the field. When he came up with the Twins in 2011, he was a shortstop. Minnesota shifted him to second base last season and he immediately became a plus-defender.

Although he still has two years before becoming arbitration-eligible, there is a belief Dozier could be a candidate to sign a long-term contract with the Twins. But it won’t be cheap.

The San Diego Padres on Monday re-signed their second baseman, Jedd Gyorko, to a five-year extension worth $35 million. Gyorko’s offensive statistics outpace Dozier’s only slightly, but Dozier is the better defensive player.

“I think he can be a .275 or even a .300 hitter,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a pretty good all-around player.”

Jays, Twins play 2 today

Inclement weather forced the postponement of the middle game of a three-game series between Toronto and host Minnesota.

The game was rescheduled for Thursday as part of a split doubleheader, with the first game going as scheduled at 12:10 p.m. and the second game set to start at 6:10 p.m. Today’s forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-30s.