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Dozier, Twins eager to reach warm Puerto Rico

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier couldn't help but check this week's weather forecast for the Twins' upcoming set of games in Puerto Rico.

The Twins' second baseman had spent time outside Saturday in the snow with his French bulldog, Pickle, leading to anticipation for warmer weather as the team heads for a two-game series against the Indians Tuesday and Wednesday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier couldn't help but check this week's weather forecast for the Twins' upcoming set of games in Puerto Rico.

The Twins' second baseman had spent time outside Saturday in the snow with his French bulldog, Pickle, leading to anticipation for warmer weather as the team heads for a two-game series against the Indians Tuesday and Wednesday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

"I was lying in bed last night and checked the weather down there," said Dozier, who spends his offseason in his home state of Mississippi and doesn't see much snow. "I think its 87 today. We can't get down there soon enough."

Who can blame Dozier and the Twins for their excitement to leave their home park?

Minnesota had the final three games of its four-game weekend set with the White Sox postponed because of snow. The Twins had four of the games on their nine-game, home-opening series postponed.

The Twins will make up their series finale with the Mariners on May 14, a mutual off-day for both teams, but haven't announced the makeup dates for the three games with the White Sox.

"It's not ideal, to say the least," Twins manager Paul Molitor said Sunday before the team left for Puerto Rico. "You can pretty much bank on the fact early in the year there's a good chance that you might lose a game or two. But when it starts to get excessive, it backs you up later in the year.

"You lose some of the flow that you like to have coming out of Spring Training, in terms of getting your players into a bit of a rhythm. But you can't control it, as the old adage goes, so we're trying to adjust the best way we can. I think everybody is excited about getting down to Puerto Rico."

With the four postponements, Molitor was forced to adjust his rotation again and skip any need for a fifth starter to this point in the season. Molitor said Jake Odorizzi will start the first game, followed by Puerto Rico native Jose Berrios.

"We were going to try to make it happen the best way we could," Molitor said of Berrios starting in his home country. "Obviously with cancellations, it's made it a little more challenging."

Berrios' emergence a boon for Twins, P.R.

Lance Lynn, who was scheduled to start Saturday, is lined up to start Friday when the Twins open a series at Tampa Bay. For Lynn, it will be 10 days between starts. Kyle Gibson will follow for the second game, with Molitor undecided about the starter for Sunday's contest.

Berrios and fellow Puerto Rican Eddie Rosario are particularly excited for the trip back home.

"I'm extremely anxious right now," Berrios said after his last start this past Thursday. "This is my last outing before I step on the mound in front of my fans and my family and my country, and I'm looking forward to it."

All the players have had to adjust their early-season routines. The Twins held a workout day at Target Field on Sunday before leaving. Players were there to get swings in the cage and pitchers had indoor bullpen sessions. There is also an optional workout Monday in Puerto Rico.

Considering the challenges Puerto Rico has been through, Molitor is grateful for the chance to lift the spirits of the residents on the island. 

"I don't know how to measure how big it is, but obviously, we have been given opportunities, in the position that we take in our game, people look up to it, and we have a chance to have influence," Molitor said. "Some of it is resource, some of it is just, you put your words and your presence there and it brings significance to the efforts that are ongoing.

"So MLB, the Twins and the Indians have all done a good job of coordinating as many things as we can during the course of those three days without detracting from the fact that we're there to play baseball."

Prior to Tuesday's game, Minnesota will have played just 11 times in the season's first 19 days.

"We'll make up for it in the end, in the dog days so to speak," Dozier said. "Baseball's all about a routine, developing a routine and going about yourself every day at the park, knowing when you're going to play and all that stuff. It does throw you for a loop, I guess, in that sense.

"At the same time, we make a living ad-libbing. You got to ad-lib in this game and you got to take it in stride."

Brian Hall is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier