4/18/2014 11:50 P.M. ET
Dozier's power surge sparking offensive attack
By Robert Falkoff / Special to MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- A power-hitting second baseman is a precious commodity and the Twins have one in Brian Dozier. With five home runs through the club's first 15 games, Dozier entered Friday's series opener against the Royals tied with Mike Trout for second place in the American League. They trailed only Jose Bautista, who had six homers.
Stationed at the top of the lineup, Dozier's instant offense has loomed large for a Minnesota attack which had scored 86 runs through Thursday, the second-highest total in the AL.
"Bruno [hitting coach Tom Brunansky] and I have been working hard on creating more power," Dozier said. "But my job as a leadoff hitter is to get on base and the power is secondary. Let the big boppers behind me drive me in."
Dozier flashed a power stroke last year when he hit 18 homers. His 23 jacks since the start of 2013 rank second among AL second basemen behind only Robinson Cano.
"The last couple of years, I've kind of learned when to take my shots, rather than go up there swinging for the fences," Dozier said. "That comes with experience."
Dozier moved from the leadoff spot to the No. 2 hole on Friday as manager Ron Gardenhire tweaked his lineup to go against crafty Royals left-hander Jason Vargas. It was just the second time this year that Dozier has batted second.
Dozier was delighted to walk out to batting practice Friday with the temperature around 70 degrees. After playing in 31-degree weather at home on Thursday, the Twins were truly basking in the sunlight.
"That [Thursday weather] was the coldest I've played in," Dozier said. "Today feels like 100 degrees."
The Twins can only hope that warm weather this weekend will translate into even more power performances from Dozier, who is now tied for fifth place on Minnesota's all-time leadoff homer list with six. Jacque Jones is the all-time leader with 20.
Gardy gives Kubel break against lefty Vargas
KANSAS CITY -- Jason Kubel was out of the Twins' lineup on Friday, but only because manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to give him some rest with Royals left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound.
"Big doubleheader [on Thursday]," Gardenhire said. "He's just a little worn out. He said his feet were frozen. I think they are OK today. That's the biggest statement we've gotten out of Kubel in four years."
Kubel entered the weekend series with a .340 batting average, which ranked seventh-best in the American League. He entered as a pinch-hitter for Pedro Florimon in the seventh inning of the Twins' 5-0 loss to the Royals and fouled out to left, as Alex Gordon crashed into the side wall to make the catch.
Twins say Bartlett leaning toward retirement
KANSAS CITY -- Veteran shortstop Jason Bartlett has informed the Twins that he is contemplating retirement.
"I talked to Jason [on Friday] and he said that's what he is leaning toward," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He is going to think about it for the next day or two, but right now it looks like he might be ready to call it a day."
Following Friday night's 5-0 loss to the Royals, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he had received a text message from Bartlett.
"He appreciated the chance here," Gardenhire said. "He was good for us in Spring Training. We're going to miss him. One of the greatest kids you'll ever meet. He's making a decision for him and his family."
Antony said the Twins didn't have a hint that Bartlett might be thinking about retirement when he recently reported to Class A Advanced Fort Myers for a rehab assignment after sustaining an ankle injury.
"He went out as scheduled," Antony said. "It caught me off-guard, caught me by surprise."
Bartlett didn't sound dejected on the phone, according to Antony.
"Not at all," Antony said. "He sounded like a guy who had been thinking about this and was comfortable that this is what he wants to do."
The Twins had planned for Bartlett to play about a week for Fort Myers before moving up to Triple-A Rochester to continue the rehab assignment.
After making the Opening Day roster, Bartlett was working on a split contract -- meaning compensation is based on whether the player is in the Minors or Majors.
"I don't think any of that is going to come into play," Antony said. "He wants to just retire, similar to the [former Royals starting pitcher] Gil Meche thing. He told me, 'You guys treated me great. You gave me a chance to come back and do this.'"
Bartlett, 34, was 0-for-3 in three games this season. He sat out the 2013 season before coming back this year. Bartlett entered 2014 with a .271 batting average in 889 Major League games.
"I think he could definitely contribute to the team," Antony said. "What he was going to do production-wise on the field was still up in the air. But I know Gardy [manager Ron Gardenhire] was very excited about what he could bring to the team. The way he went about things, the example he set, the leadership role he was playing. There were a lot of intangibles in how he fit on this team."
• Twins outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia, who are both on the disabled list with wrist injuries, have begun light rehabilitation with encouraging results.
"It was a good day back home for those two guys," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. Manager Ron Gardenhire said both players would eventually need rehab assignments before returning to the Twins.
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.