Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/8/12
MINNEAPOLIS Twins shortstop Brian Dozier played well enough in spring training to perhaps warrant a shot at the majors out of camp. Still, he said before spring was over that he expected to start the year in the minor leagues. That's exactly how it played out. But when Dozier was assigned to Triple-A Rochester to start the season, he used that as motivation instead of getting down about it. He got off to a quick start to the 2012 season and, despite cooling down in recent weeks, finally got his call to the majors after batting .276 with 12 RBI in 28 games. Dozier debuted Monday in the Twins' 8-3 loss to the Angels as Minnesota's shortstop and No. 2 hitter in the lineup. Talking to reporters before the game, Dozier couldn't hide his excitement. "It's something every kid dreams about all their life. I've been dreaming about it for 20-something years now," Dozier said. "It was very emotional for me when I did get called up. I've had a couple days to soak it in so far and everything. It's very overwhelming. I've been very blessed and just very, very excited to be here." Dozier collected his first major league hit in his fourth at-bat of the game, a single up the middle in the eighth inning off Angels reliever David Carpenter. Dozier later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Doumit. In the top half of the eighth inning, Dozier made a nice play in the hole at shortstop, spun and made a tough throw to first base to retire designated hitter Mark Trumbo at first base. "He did a nice job. He made one really, really nice play up the middle," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Dozier's debut. "I was happy for the young man. He wasn't overwhelmed. He faced a really good pitcher out there and wasn't overwhelmed at all and did a really nice job." After Dozier reached base with his first major league hit, he was greeted with a pat on the back and the helmet by Angels star first baseman Albert Pujols. Dozier said he had the chance to meet Pujols before the game and received some encouraging words from the three-time MVP. "We talked before the game, and he gave me some advice and told me, 'It's the same game. Keep doing what you were doing,'" Dozier said of his meeting with Pujols. "Then once I got on first, he said, 'Congratulations. Looked good up there. The first of many.' It was good to hear that." Dozier, 24, was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year last season after splitting time between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. He was called up to Minnesota to take the roster spot of Justin Morneau, who is currently on the disabled list with a sore wrist. In spring training, Dozier worked closely with veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, whom the Twins acquired as a free agent this offseason. At 38 years old, Carroll is 14 years Dozier's senior. But the two quickly built a rapport together. Monday, they were playing in the middle infield together as Carroll shifted from shortstop -- where he had played every game this season -- to second base. "Me and Jamey were really close," Dozier said. "He's a first-class guy. You can't get any better." Dozier was fittingly given a locker right next to Carroll's corner locker in Minnesota's clubhouse. The Twins are hoping Dozier can possibly give them a spark as they've gotten off to a 7-21 start this season. "He's obviously got the tools to play the game. Great defender, got some pop in his bat," Carroll said of Dozier. "It's going to be fun to see him play. He had a great spring training. He's had a good start to his year. We'll see how he's going to help our ballclub here." Dozier wasn't called up to the majors just to sit on the bench. The Twins plan to use him regularly at shortstop, which means a transition in the infield for Carroll. In his 11 seasons in the majors, Carroll has played three different infield positions -- including 27 games at shortstop this season. But he's a natural second baseman, having played 507 games there before moving back to second for Monday's game against the Angels. "He understood totally. He's done it his whole career. He's played everywhere," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Carroll. "He's played very well at shortstop for us, and I wanted him to know this is not a demotion. This is not a knock against him. The young man has played great shortstop out there for us. But our best player down there was Mr. Dozier. We bring him up and we've got to make adjustments up here." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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