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Minnesota must pick it up with Deadline nearing

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

CHICAGO -- The Twins held a players-only meeting before their series against the Indians in Cleveland on June 15 to discuss where they were in the standings and how they needed to pick it up with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline looming.

Minnesota responded by winning back-to-back series over the first-place Indians and Red Sox to move within 5 1/2 games of Cleveland in the American League Central, only to lose consecutive series to the Rangers and White Sox, which has the Twins a season-worst 8 1/2 games out of first place entering Thursday's game against the White Sox.

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CHICAGO -- The Twins held a players-only meeting before their series against the Indians in Cleveland on June 15 to discuss where they were in the standings and how they needed to pick it up with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline looming.

Minnesota responded by winning back-to-back series over the first-place Indians and Red Sox to move within 5 1/2 games of Cleveland in the American League Central, only to lose consecutive series to the Rangers and White Sox, which has the Twins a season-worst 8 1/2 games out of first place entering Thursday's game against the White Sox.

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It's created a sense of urgency in the Twins' clubhouse, as they know if they don't make up ground over the next month, they could be sellers at the Trade Deadline.

"Obviously, this series and the last series have been unfortunate coming off two huge series wins," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "But that's kind of how we've played the first few months of the season, which is not good. But I keep saying this team has potential to catch fire and do good things. I know we keep waiting on that and waiting on that, and in a perfect world, it would start today. But I think the mindset is where it needs to be. We just have to start winning more games."

Dozier is one of several impending free agents for Minnesta who could be moved at the Trade Deadline. Others include Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn and Fernando Rodney. But Dozier said they're trying not to worry about potential trades, especially considering the Deadline is more than a month away.

"I'm a firm believer baseball is meant to be played over a full season," Dozier said. "I really think it will be neck and neck and go down to the wire to the very end of the season, but we know there are some things that could happen. What we talked about in Cleveland amongst players was to be more aware of where we're at. We were talking about having a different mindset for the next month, month and a half."

As Dozier alluded to, the Twins were both buyers and sellers at last year's Trade Deadline, ultimately dealing away closer Brandon Kintzler and lefty Jaime Garcia, only to make it to the AL Wild Card Game. They were buoyed by a strong August that saw them go 20-10, and Dozier remains optimistic that the division race isn't over and that they can turn it around before the Deadline.

"Baseball isn't played in just three months -- it's a sixth-month season," Dozier said. "Things can happen in August and September that are really crazy. But our mindset is good and we know we what we need to do leading up to the end of next month."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins