Notes: Dozier at 3B; Negro Leagues salute

February 25th, 2021

Last season, Royals manager Mike Matheny sat down with and asked him to be honest: What position did he want to play? The third baseman-turned-utility man had been moved around the field throughout his career, playing third base, right field, left field and first base depending on the needs of the team. Matheny wanted to know where Dozier wanted to play.

“He says, ‘Listen, in all honesty, what I want to do is whatever you want me to do. I like the challenge of having to be versatile. I love the challenge of trying to be athletic no matter where you put me,’” Matheny recalled Wednesday from Royals camp in Surprise, Ariz. “And that’s an honest answer. He looked at me in a way that I believe him. We’re fortunate. I think it’s just the kind of player that the Kansas City Royals love to have.”

This season, Dozier will have a chance to establish himself once again at third base, where he played in the Minors and the majority of the 2019 season. With Carlos Santana now at first base for the next two years and Maikel Franco being non-tendered this past offseason, Dozier taking over third base is a natural fit.

“It’s not much different,” Dozier said Tuesday. “I just take more ground balls, a lot more ground balls. I’m glad to be back over there. I’m excited.”

After a breakout 2019, Dozier struggled to get going in 2020, going from an .870 OPS in ’19 to a .736 OPS last season. The 29-year-old contracted COVID-19 to start the season and only played 44 games, later admitting that the effects of the virus took a larger toll on his body than he originally thought it would when he rejoined the team.

Still, he hopes to learn from last season and take the way he felt at the very end into this year.

“When the season was ending, I was kind of feeling back to normal, kind of getting into the groove,” Dozier said. “By the time I started feeling good, getting used to the whole routine -- because it takes a couple weeks, a month, at the beginning of the season to get used to everything. We’re used to a marathon, and last year was kind of a sprint. So right when the last game ended, it was like, ‘Wait, I go home? We just started.’ So physically I feel good, and I’m definitely excited to play a full season.”

Matheny said missing the start of the season last year is similar to missing a bulk of Spring Training in a typical year, especially the preparation part of the spring that all hitters go through to get their timing and rhythm down.

With Dozier healthy, Matheny’s confident he can get back to the 2019 version the Royals saw. Being at the same position every day again should help, too.

“I felt like he was fighting it a little bit last year and just finding his rhythm,” Matheny said. “I know he’s excited to be back on the infield. He loves being over there. He’s moving around really well. I’m just hoping that we can get him consistent work, health, that we can see the next step forward from what we were starting to see in ‘19.”

Salute to the Negro Leagues
The Royals, in partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, announced that their annual Salute to the Negro Leagues game will be May 23 against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will wear the 1949 Kansas City Monarchs uniforms, which are white with red stitching and “Monarchs” across the front. The hat is red with a “K” overlapping a “C”.

The Tigers will wear the 1920 Detroit Tigers uniforms, which are blue and gray with “Detroit” across the front. They’ll don gray hats with a blue bill and a red star on it.

Around the complex
• The Royals’ back fields were full of live batting practices Wednesday: Mike Minor, Scott Blewett, Scott Barlow, Eric Skoglund, Austin Cox, Wade Davis, Jesse Hahn, Jake Newberry, Gabe Speier, Jake Kalish, Richard Lovelady, Jackson Kowar, Jake Brentz and Angel Zerpa all threw to hitters. Danny Duffy, Greg Holland and Jon Heasley threw bullpens.

• It was also photo day at Royals camp, but the team photographers weren’t the only ones sporting cameras around the complex. Pitching prospect Carlos Hernández was seen taking a few shots of his teammates around the dugout while they waited for their official photos to be taken:

• The Royals and 610 Sports Radio announced a few changes to the spring broadcast schedule: The Royals’ game at 2:05 p.m. CT on March 6 against the Giants will now air via webcast on, due to a rescheduling conflict with the Kansas State men’s basketball team. Instead, 610 Sports Radio will pick up the Royals’ game at 3:05 p.m. CT on March 25 against the D-backs.