6/21/2013 8:26 P.M. ET
Dozier excelling in leadoff role
By Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- As the Twins began a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field, second baseman Brian Dozier found himself at the top of the batting order for the third game in a row.
Dozier entered Friday with a .375/.524/1.063 slash line over his past five games. In that span, he's hit two doubles and a trio of homers while driving in seven runs and scoring six. Friday marked the 23rd time this season that Dozier led off the lineup.
"Those are table-setters. You put guys up there to get on ahead of your guys that are supposed to be driving them in," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "Now, he's driving them in, too, when the lineup rolls over. The guys at the bottom have been doing pretty decent themselves. He's come up with a couple of big home runs and knocked in some runs, too. But, the big thing with him is, he's being aggressive right now."
Dozier's two-run homer on Thursday was one of four hit by the Twins in their 8-4 win over the White Sox. The bottom three batters -- Oswaldo Arcia, Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar -- hit homers, too. Prior to Thursday, Minnesota had never received home runs from its leadoff, seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in one game.
And when such production is added to what guys like Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Justin Morneau and John Willingham are capable of contributing, well, things suddenly look very bright for the Twins.
"You've got a pretty good bunch of guys right there that can do some damage and put some numbers up," Gardenhire said.
Carroll starts at shortstop against southpaw
CLEVELAND -- With left-hander Scott Kazmir pitching for the Indians on Friday night, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to go with Jamey Carroll at shortstop rather than Pedro Florimon.
In 13 career plate appearances against Kazmir, Carroll is 6-for-10 with a double and two walks. He also has an RBI and a couple of strikeouts. Florimon, a switch-hitter, is batting .103 over 44 plate appearances against southpaws this season.
"Tonight was basically just the way it worked out," Gardenhire said. "[You're] trying to find a way to get him in the lineup, because he needs to play, because those guys got to help you one way or another -- you got to use them all. And tonight, if you're not going to start him against this guy, he'd probably sit for another four or five days.
"This is a very important night for him to go out there."
In 36 games, Carroll is hitting .205 (26-for-127) with six RBIs. Florimon, on the other hand, is batting .228 (39-for-171) with three homers and 22 RBIs over 56 games.
With a right-handed pitcher on the hill, Florimon has a .265 batting average and .342 on-base percentage.
"Right-handed, it's not been great. Left-handed, I still feel confident that he can do it," Gardenhire said. "The unfortunate part is you can't play them all, and Flori's going to have to sit. You know what, he'll be back out there tomorrow, probably a good chance. I like what Flori does, though. He's a [heck] of a shortstop."
Injured Hicks, Ramirez progressing in Minors
CLEVELAND -- The outfield at Triple-A Rochester is about to be infused with some Major League talent.
Both Aaron Hicks and Wilkin Ramirez will likely join the Red Wings sometime soon as they return from the disabled list. While Ramirez is still rehabbing with Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Hicks is scheduled to travel to Louisville on Sunday to join Rochester.
"He's going to run the bases tomorrow. It was too wet to do it today," assistant general manager Rob Antony said about Hicks. "Tomorrow, he's going to do some sprints, and then hopefully if all goes well, he'll go join Rochester on Sunday night.
"Number 1, he's got to get healthy, and Number 2, he's got to swing the bat and show he's ready to come back up here and help us."
Hicks went on the DL on June 10 with a strained left hamstring. The center fielder won't be back with the Twins before they begin an eight-game homestand on Thursday, according to Antony. In 55 games, Hicks is batting .179 (34-for-190) with six home runs and 19 RBIs.
As for Ramirez, he's on the DL with concussion-like symptoms, and he hasn't played since May 25. The right fielder is hitting .244 (11-for-45) with five RBIs in 23 games. On Thursday, Ramirez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, a walk and a run scored for Fort Myers.
In his first rehab appearance, Ramirez was the designated hitter. Moving forward, he'll play five innings in the field and likely a full game after that, getting several plate appearances per game.
"As long as he's healthy, he's the same type thing. He's got to produce, and then we'll go from there," Antony said. "He's in Fort Myers, so we could transfer him to Rochester to face better pitching and better competition before he comes up.
"[There's a] number of things we could do. It'll all kind of be dictated by how he's swinging it, and how he's feeling and everything and what's going on here."
Quote to note
"[Kevin] Correia's probably been the most consistent out of the whole group and has gone into the eighth inning at least once this year. ... I like how he goes about it. I think he definitely could probably be the guy I would say, you know, good candidate to go a solid nine. And I think [Mike] Pelfrey's getting closer with his arm strength and everything, that he could do those things. He's a big horse. He told me."
-- Gardenhire, on which of his starting pitchers was the most likely to give the Twins their first complete game this year
• Josh Willingham started in left field on Friday, six days after receiving a cortisone shot in his left knee.
"He says he feels better, so we're just going to play him until he tells me he can't play," Gardenhire said. "He hasn't said that. He keeps coming in here and saying, 'I feel good. I'm fine. It's getting better.'"
During the three-game sweep of the White Sox, Willingham made two starts in left but was forced to DH on Wednesday because of discomfort. Over 15 plate appearances, Willingham went 4-for-12 with three walks and four strikeouts. The left fielder is batting .217 (48-for-221) with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs.
• Though Jared Burton was forced to labor through a 23-pitch inning on Thursday and blew a save on Tuesday, Gardenhire is just fine with the way the right-hander is throwing.
"The ball's coming out of his hand really nicely," the manager said. "Yesterday was fine, and even the one outing where he gave up some runs, he'll tell you, he gave up the run that tied the game up, he had some of his best stuff. The ball was diving all over the place."
In 33 appearances, Burton is 2-for-6 in save opportunities with a 3.62 ERA., but his ERA in June is 9.45 through seven games.
• Since June 2, 2012, the Twins are 13-5 against Cleveland. In those 18 games, Mauer is batting .352, Dozier is hitting .333, Florimon owns a .310 average and Trevor Plouffe has batted at a .375 clip. Minnesota has outscored the Indians 116-72 since that date.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.