By PATRICK SLACK
A day after closing the disastrous second chapter of Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s stint with the team, the Minnesota Twins demoted shortstop Brian Dozier.
While Dozier wasn’t quite Nishiokaesque in his ineffectuality, he did struggle pretty heavily, hitting .234 with a meager .271 on-base percentage.
But beyond those numbers, the more concerning issue is his lack of understanding of the position and the game itself, highlighted by a play late in Sunday’s extra-inning loss to Tampa Bay.
With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 10th inning and the bases loaded, a slow bouncer was hit to Dozier.
Out of the three places he could have thrown the ball, he chose the worst.
He could have gone home for a force out or thrown to second to try to start a double play.
Neither play was guaranteed to work, although both looked feasible watching in real-time and on replay.
Instead, he threw to first, allowing all three runners to advance.
Dozier explained his choice by saying that he needed to get an out in that situation.
That was bad enough, but instead of leaving it there, he proceeded to say that every shortstop in the league would make the same choice.
The Twins certainly could have made up one run in the bottom of the inning, had they gotten out of the frame without any more damage.
But not taking what was at least a 50/50 chance to prevent the opponent from taking the lead in extra innings, and thereby ensuring their closer will enter, is not the action any good shortstop would take.
Making a wrong decision is part of the development process and not worthy of scorn at this point.
Being unaware of why the decision was wrong after having time to reflect on it is.
The Twins hoped that Dozier would settle into the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, but even if that happens, it appears that he will be a marginal upgrade over the revolving door of middle infielders the Twins have trotted out the past two decades, showing flashes of brilliance like Alexi Casilla and Cristian Guzman, but a fraction of the consistency of Greg Gagne or the table-setting skills of Chuck Knoblauch.