DETROIT -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Saturday's 12-9 loss to the Tigers that he'd prefer to avoid using Brian Dozier as he continues to recover from a tight lower back he aggravated during the series in Toronto.
With injuries to two third basemen on Saturday, the luxury of resting Dozier another full day wasn't afforded to Gardenhire. And while the injury might have prevented Dozier from being successful on the basepaths, he didn't have to find out. In his lone at-bat after entering during the eighth inning, Dozier homered to left field in the ninth.
The two-run blast cut Detroit's lead, once 11-1, to just three runs, but Eric Fryer struck out to end the game in the next at-bat.
"He made that look easy," Gardenhire said. "But I'm still worried about him.
"He took a swing, but he still was stiff toward the end of the game. He still hasn't had to dive. He hasn't had to run or slide."
Starting third baseman Trevor Plouffe exited the game in the fourth with what the team called a strained left oblique after he attempted a diving stop. His replacement, Eduardo Nunez, pulled his right hamstring legging out an infield single in the eighth inning, prompting Dozier's emergency appearance.
Gardenhire said the decision came down to Dozier or Kurt Suzuki, the team's usual starting catcher, but he opted for Dozier.
Gardenhire excited to coach in All-Star Game
DETROIT -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a hunch since the Winter Meetings that he'd be invited to help coach the American League in the All-Star Game in Gardenhire's home ballpark.
That's when Red Sox skipper John Farrell, who will manage the AL in the Midsummer Classic on July 15, expressed his desire to Gardenhire that he'd be on his staff.
"I said, 'Whatever you need me to do, I'm there,'" Gardenhire recalled on Saturday. "I'm excited to be there. It'll be a wonderful sight to see."
Gardenhire said he began tidying up his office last month in preparation for the event at Target Field.
With Fuld healthy, Santana returns to shortstop
DETROIT -- While center fielder Sam Fuld missed 32 games with a concussion, the Twins found another viable option in the outfield -- infielder Danny Santana.
On Saturday, Santana was in the lineup at shortstop for the first time since May 21. Fuld, meanwhile, was back in center to make his first start since May 7.
Santana prefers to be at shortstop, and his flexibility fits nicely with manager Ron Gardenhire's plan for the team entering the season.
"We don't have a perfect scenario where we can say, 'He's this and he's this,'" Gardenhire said on Saturday. "It's good, as I said at the start of Spring Training, to have options.
"We're looking for moving parts, guys who can go everywhere and move around. We want to have a little maneuverability here, and we do."
Regular shortstop Eduardo Escobar shifted over to second base for Saturday's game.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.