MINNEAPOLIS – On Friday night, the Minnesota Twins put up 15 hits to beat the Tampa Rays 11-8. Knocking in the first run of the night was Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier, who hit a sac fly that kick-started the Twins’ lineup. Dozier went 1-for-4, hitting a double, scoring once and knocking in an RBI.
Dozier, now a seven-year veteran with the Twins, faces the final year of his four-year, $20 million contract and now rumors of trades have surfaced with the All-Star break nearing.
“I’ve played this game long enough at this level,” Dozier said. “Each and every year you hear your name’s floated out, all that kind of stuff. That means somebody wants you which is a really good thing at this level. I know it’s a cliché to say, but you just take it one game at a time.”
Dozier is hitting a career-low .230 heading into the All-Star break but does have 16 home runs and is slugging .423.
In his career with the Twins, Dozier was selected as an All-Star in 2015, an American League Golden Glove winner in 2017 and helped lead the Twins to a playoff spot for the first time in six years in 2017.
Dozier’s success with the organization dates back to his days at Southern Miss, where he found a commonality between his alma mater and the Twins. That commonality helped him ease into the organization.
“When I was in my time at Southern Miss, that kind of made me who I am,” Dozier said. “Southern Miss is a blue-collar university and the Twins, per se, are a blue-collar organization. I think that the way that kind of coincides together is how I carry myself up here. I learned a lot at Southern Miss.”
In his time at Southern Miss, the Fulton native was named second team all-conference in 2008 and was part of the school’s only College World Series team in 2009.
The key part of Dozier’s play with the Twins has been his ability to hit the long ball, as he has racked up 166 home runs in his career. Ironically, Dozier only hit 16 home runs in his four-year career at Southern Miss. That change occurred in double-A while playing a round of golf with his hitting coach Tom Brunansky.
“He saw me hitting long drives and stuff and he was wondering why it wasn’t translating to the field,” Dozier said. “Long story short, I was unlocking my hips and driving my back leg into my front side so good in golf, but I wasn’t doing the same thing in baseball. We left the golf course and went to the hitting cage, so ever since then that was kind of the turning point on how to create power.”
While rumors of a change in uniform continue to surface, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukie Brewers being the main names thrown around most recently, Dozier still holds his time and experiences with the Twins in high regard.
“I do love it here,” Dozier said. “It’s been home for me the past seven years at this level. Nine years altogether dating back to 2009. The fans are amazing, we play in one of the most beautiful ballparks in all of baseball and the city itself is probably one of the best. So all in all, it’s been home. So whatever happens, I know this will always be home.”