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Twins’ Dozier to be in Home Run Derby

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By Mike Berardino

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Looks like Brian Dozier won’t be going home to Mississippi on Sunday night after all.

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The Twins’ slugging second baseman was among four players named Tuesday to represent the American League in Monday’s Home Run Derby at Target Field.

Dozier will join AL captain Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays along with Yoenis Cespedes (Oakland) and Adam Jones (Baltimore).

Joining National League captain Troy Tulowitzki of Colorado will be Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers), Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins) and Todd Frazier (Cincinnati Reds).

All eight participants announced so far hit from the right side, a nod perhaps to Target Field’s challenging dimensions in right and right-center field.

Two more participants will be announced Thursday.

Dozier, at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, will become the sixth Twins player to participate in the Home Run Derby. He would join Joe Mauer (2009), Justin Morneau (2007-08), Torii Hunter (2002), Gary Gaetti (1989) and Tom Brunansky (1985).

Morneau won the 2008 event at old Yankee Stadium, outlasting Josh Hamilton.

Brunansky, now the Twins’ hitting coach, tied for second in 1985 at the Metrodome, the last time the Twin Cities hosted an All-Star Game and the inaugural year of the Home Run Derby in conjunction with the Midsummer Classic.

Though he was disappointed at not making the AL all-star team when it was announced Sunday, Dozier said he was looking forward to visiting with his niece and nephew back in Fulton, Miss., during the all-star break. Asked about the derby, Dozier suggested he might be willing to change his plans if invited to compete against the game’s most prolific sluggers.

“Guess you can’t really turn that down,” he said. “It would be a good opportunity.”

Dozier, 27, is tied for 12th in the American League with 16 home runs, two shy of the career mark he set last year. Nine of his homers have come at Target Field, typically down the left-field line.

Bautista has 17 homers, but Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout (20 homers) and 2011 derby champion Robinson Cano of Seattle have already said they won’t participate.

Of the 11 AL players with more homers than Dozier, two (David Ortiz and Albert Pujols) failed to make the all-star team and another (Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion) is expected to pull out with an injury.

Since June 16 of last season, Dozier’s 31 homers rank 15th in the majors. That production in a span of 703 at-bats (179 games) puts him just ahead of noted sluggers such as Victor Martinez (30), Bautista (30) and Hanley Ramirez (30), and right behind the likes of Trout (35) and Ortiz (35).

Baltimore’s Chris Davis leads the majors with 45 homers in that span.

In addition to Dozier, the Twins are sending closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki to the All-Star Game itself. The three combined participants would tie for the largest Twins all-star presence since they sent four players to Toronto in 1991.

They last had three combined participants in 2009, when Mauer, Morneau and closer Joe Nathan were chosen as all-stars.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will serve as a coach for American League manager John Farrell. Head trainer Dave Pruemer and strength-and-conditioning coordinator Perry Castellano also will participate.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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