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Dozier nearing return to Twins' starting lineup

Second baseman held out as a precaution on Wednesday against KC

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier wasn't in the Twins' lineup for a second straight night on Wednesday against the Royals.

Dozier left early in Sunday's game in Seattle with back spasms that extended from a bone bruise in his left knee that he has been favoring for quite some time.

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The second baseman -- who is sporting a brace on his knee and was fitted for Orthotics on Wednesday morning -- was hoping to get back in the starting lineup Wednesday night, but the trainers opted for a cautious approach.

"He came in today, I was really excited, I thought we were going to go ahead and stick him out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But the trainers said they'd really like to see him go through a workout today and practice, and try this little brace out and everything. I don't think he's too excited about that stuff, but if it helps him, if it keeps his knee and back away from the pain that he had, then that's OK."

The brace Dozier is wearing is quite similar to teammate Josh Willingham's as it's meant to open up the joint and relieve some pressure from the joint. The Orthotics will serve the same purpose and provide extra support.

While Dozier didn't start on Wednesday, he was declared to be available off the bench if needed.

"I thought I'd be ready today and I think Gardy just made the decision to be available tonight if needed at the end of the game or anything -- pinch-hit, defense, anything like that -- and then be back in there tomorrow," Dozier said.

Dozier is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak, going 8-for-31 in that stretch for a .258 average. The streak also matches his career high, a mark he's hit twice, the latest of which came earlier this season from May 27 to June 2.

Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier