MINNEAPOLIS -- Kurt Suzuki has shined in his first season with the Twins, and manager Ron Gardenhire believes his catcher is worthy of being a first-time All-Star.
Suzuki, 30, has earned rave reviews from the pitching staff for his work behind the plate, but he is also having a breakout year offensively. He ranks second among all catchers with a .299 average while ranking first among American League catchers with a .354 on-base percentage. He ranks second among AL catchers in doubles, with 17, and fourth in RBIs, with 34.
Thus Gardenhire believes that Suzuki deserves to represent the Twins in the All-Star Game, which will be held at Target Field on July 15. In the final ballot update, released on Monday, Suzuki ranked fourth among AL catchers.
"Absolutely," Gardenhire said. "He's hitting .300 as a catcher, and with everything with this pitching staff he's done, he's been pretty doggone good. So, absolutely."
Gardenhire remains hopeful the Twins will have more than one representative in the Midsummer Classic -- other candidates are second baseman Brian Dozier, right-hander Phil Hughes and closer Glen Perkins -- but he's not sure if being the host will work to their benefit or not.
"It's hard to say," said Gardenhire, who will serve on the AL coaching staff under Red Sox manager John Farrell. "There's so many guys deserving. I don't know if it will or not. I don't know if it's something that would be on their mind, but I hope it would be, [to have] a couple of Minnesota guys on there. But you don't want to stick it to another player because of that if they're well deserving."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT.
Dozier gets rare day out of the lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Second baseman Brian Dozier received a rare day off on Tuesday.
Dozier had started 79 of the club's first 81 games, missing only two starts in mid-June because of a minor back injury. He has also been struggling recently, going just 1-for-24 over his last six games and seeing his slash line dip to.235/.350/.442.
"He's been playing every game and every inning," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We all see he's scuffling a little bit. He just missed a home run last night. You could see a little frustration in the dugout. And he's a little worn out. So he needs a blow like everybody else."
With Dozier out of the lineup, Eduardo Escobar made the start at second base.
Left fielder Josh Willingham was also not in the lineup, as Gardenhire opted to start the hot-hitting Chris Parmelee in left field with right-hander James Shields on the mound for the Royals.
Parmelee wasted no time, getting the Twins on the board with an RBI double in the first inning.
"I tried to put as many lefties in there as I possibly could," Gardenhire said.
• The Twins signed right-hander John Curtiss, selected in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, the club announced on Tuesday. Curtiss, who pitched at the University of Texas, is the last of the club's top 10 picks to sign; he will start at Rookie-level Elizabethton.
Minnesota has now signed 28 of its 40 picks.
• The World Cup match between the U.S. and Belgium -- which the Americans lost, 2-1 -- aired on the video board at Target Field during batting practice, as well as in the Twins' clubhouse before the game. Gardenhire has been following the World Cup, as has outfielder Sam Fuld, who played soccer in high school in New Hampshire.