FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the idea of bringing fans closer to game, Twins second baseman James Dozier wore a live microphone and earpiece for Saturday's radio/television broadcast. The experience paid off, as he went 2-for-2, including launching a two-run homer in the first inning of a rain-shortened game against
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With the idea of bringing fans closer to game, Twins second baseman James Dozier wore a live microphone and earpiece for Saturday's radio/television broadcast. The experience paid off, as he went 2-for-2, including launching a two-run homer in the first inning of a rain-shortened game against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.
Dozier wore the equipment throughout the game -- which was cancelled with the Twins up, 10-3, after three innings -- conversing with radio broadcasters Cory Provus and Danny Gladden. But the highlight came during his at-bat against right-hander Trevor Kelley in the first. After Kelley's first pitch was ruled a strike on the outside corner, Dozier could be heard saying, "No," to the home-plate umpire -- clearly disagreeing with the call, before taking the next pitch for a ball. But when Kelley came back with a 1-1 fastball, Dozier jumped all over it, and exclaimed, "Uh, oh, uh, oh," as he made contact and ball carried over the left-field fence.
"I should wear a mic every game," Dozier said while rounding the bases. "Jeez."
Dozier later explained his thinking during the at-bat, as he was ready for the fastball after seeing back-to-back breaking pitches. Dozier is one of the best fastball hitters in baseball and turned on it for his first homer of the spring, which capped a nine-run first inning, that doesn't officially count because the game didn't go five innings.
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"I thought he'd try to sneak a piece of cheese past me," Dozier said. "But sometimes it runs into the barrel. I like those."
Dozier also made conversation with teammates and opposing players during the game, including explaining to Boston third baseman Brock Holt that he missed the start of spring with kidney stones. He gave advice to Byron Buxton on what to expect from lefty Jalen Beeks in the first, and Buxton responded with an RBI single. Dozier's conversations with the broadcast team also confused Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez, who at one point looked at Dozier and asked who he was talking to as he stood alone at second base.
"I thought it was fun," Dozier said after the game. "But I think everybody was looking at me like, 'Why does he have this white piece in his ear?'"
And in a funny moment, Dozier went to the mound after right-hander Kyle Gibson hit Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the third and told him to stop hitting batters and speed the game up because of the worsening rain. Bradley ended up being the second-to-last batter before the game was called.
"That's what happens when you mic up Doz," Gibson said. "He starts telling more jokes on the field."
• It was a strange outing for Gibson because of two lengthy delays -- with the game starting 47 minutes late because of rain and Minnesota's nine-run first inning. Gibson was charged with three runs on seven hits over three innings, but was happy with the way he felt.
"I felt good and I'm healthy right now," Gibson said. "My changeup was really good again. My curveball was better. My slider is the one pitch I haven't got a good feel for, right now, so I'll work on that in the bullpen."
Opening Day starter remains undecided
• Right-hander Jose Berrios has been lined up to start on Opening Day on March 29 against the Orioles, but the Twins would look to see him start one of their two games in his native Puerto Rico against the Indians on April 17 or 18. It's difficult to start in the opener and be lined up for that series, so it leaves Jake Odorizzi or Gibson as candidates.
"We kind of have an idea of how we're going to do it, but we're going to let it play a little bit longer before we make anything official," manager Paul Molitor said.
• First baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison was held out of the lineup for a second straight game on Saturday, after suffering a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday. Morrison could return as soon as Monday.
• Right-hander Trevor May, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery last March, has progressed to throwing sliders and curveballs on flat ground. He's already throwing fastball and changeups off a mound and will incorporate his breaking pitches next.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.