7/20/2014 2:32 P.M. ET
Dozier a catalyst for Twins' high rate of DPs
By Alex M. Smith / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- If there's one thing the Twins can take solace in during a rough start to the second half of the season, it's the fact that their infield is operating efficiently.
Minnesota turned five double plays in Saturday night's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay, one off the team record set in 1990. The Twins entered Sunday fifth in the Major Leagues with 0.96 double plays turned per game, and their .987 fielding percentage was tied for third in the American League.
But there is, of course, a downside to being among the league's best when it comes to turning two.
"There's the old saying that if you lead the league in double plays, that means you have a lot of people on base, which is not good for your pitching staff," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But at least we're getting ground balls and getting out of them. You can count on those guys, and they're pretty good at it."
The catalyst for defensive excellence has been second baseman Brian Dozier, who Gardenhire endorsed as a Gold Glove candidate.
"He's spectacular," Gardenhire said. "Every day he makes some kind of play. And I do mean that. It's not just here and there. It's every day you see him make a play. He's one of the better ones I've seen out there as far as moving around, agility-wise, and making plays.
"Dozier turns it as well as anybody. That little backhand feed -- he's got that down pat. That's not easy to do. Him and [Eduardo] Escobar work pretty well up the middle."
Since return from injury, Santana off at plate
MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Santana looked lost at the plate during his first two games back from a knee injury that had kept him out since June 26.
The center fielder went a combined 1-for-9 with one infield hit against the Rays on Friday and Saturday. He was not in the starting lineup for Sunday's finale vs. Tampa Bay.
"We've seen this kid enough to know he was a little bit out of whack," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was kind of flat-footing everything. Coming off a knee injury, you get in some bad habits. Hopefully we can get him using his legs a little bit like he was before."
One could say the Twins might've seen this coming. Santana was 0-for-11 in three rehab games (left knee bone bruise) at Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
"You'd like 'em to be swinging good when they come back," Gardenhire said. "That doesn't always work out. Some guys go down, and it's about feeling healthy, it's not about the results. That's what their thought process is. A young kid like Santana, I wasn't too worried about the results. I wanted to make sure his knee was healthy, but obviously he got in some bad habits."
The manager said Santana would work with hitting coach Tom Brunansky and try to improve his lower-body movement. Minnesota hopes the promising young player can return to his pre-injury form, as he had a .315 batting average in 39 games this season entering Sunday.
"He is an igniter," Gardenhire said. 'There's no doubt in my mind when he was going good -- before he got hurt -- he was what got us started. He was on base. He could run. He had the whole package."