MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier was given a warm greeting Tuesday, Sept. 10, as the Minnesota Twins paid tribute to their former second baseman with a video ahead of their series opener with the Nationals. He received a similar welcome when he stepped to the plate Wednesday for the first time as a visitor, stopping to tip his cap and soak in the applause from the appreciative Target Field crowd.
It’s been an emotional return for Dozier, who at one point thought he would be a Twin forever. He was drafted in 2009 by the Twins and remained in the organization until a July trade last year sent him to Los Angeles, where he made a World Series run with the Dodgers.
Dozier signed a deal with the Nationals this past offseason and entered the day hitting .237/.341/.432 with 19 home runs and 45 runs driven in in 126 games.
“The whole trade stuff and all that, it was a tough time, not only for myself, my wife,” Dozier said. “When you put so much in an organization and everything and everything’s kind of uprooted and you kind of go out West and start playing kind of thing, it was a change of pace and something we had to adapt to. It took us a while to really embrace moving on, I guess, if that makes sense, and once we did that, it’s very relieving.”
Dozier has spent plenty of time catching up with his old teammates upon his return to Target Field. He has also spent time reuniting with staff, clubhouse managers, security guards and reporters among others at Target Field.
“When you move on and you go to another team and everything, when you look back, baseball is kind of — it kind of is what it is. It’s about the relationships and friendships and the people,” Dozier said. “You talk to every one of these guys the whole offseason, the whole summer. Those are the things that really matter when you move on.”
Dozier said he isn’t surprised to see many of his former teammates — Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, for example — come into their own this year, and after this reunion, he remains hopeful that he’ll have a chance at another one late next month.
“I’m happy for every single one of them. I hope they win the division and go deep and a Nats-Twins World Series matchup,” Dozier said. “That’d be great for everybody, right?”
Gibson feeling better
Kyle Gibson said he has been progressing well as he tries to manage the ulcerative colitis diagnosis that has affected him for much of the season. Gibson, who was placed on the Injured List earlier this month, was activated Tuesday and is expected to start Thursday.
He said he isn’t quite 100 percent but he is feeling better now than he has in the last month.
“Any time you’re dealing with it for the three or four months that I did, a little bit of consistent going in the right direction, I’m able to get pretty excited about it,” he said.
Gibson had thrown two bullpen sessions and said both went well. He has tinkered with different diets and medications and is now taking a heavy anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, he said.
“I think I still felt like toward August, my execution was good, but just physically I wasn’t there,” Gibson said. “So if I can keep that same execution and feel better physically like I do now, then definitely I think that can help.”
Postseason ticket strips for all playoff home games will go on sale at noon on Thursday. They will be available online only on the Twins’ official website. … Manager Rocco Baldelli said everything went well with Byron Buxton’s shoulder surgery on Tuesday. “When you do go in for most surgeries, you are not 100 percent sure what you are going to find. You have an idea, but everything they found matched up well,” Baldelli said. “Probably was similar, maybe slightly less damage than what was expected, but that probably leaves us in a very similar spot as before we went in for the surgery.” Baldelli said he expects Buxton to come back to Minnesota at some point following the surgery. … Kepler (scapula), Jake Cave (groin), Marwin Gonzalez (abdominal/oblique), C.J. Cron (thumb) and Miguel Sano (back) were all out of Wednesday’s starting lineup.