Dozier belts a pair of homers in 2014 Derby
Event turns into family affair, with brother pitching to brother
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier isn't a prototypical home run hitter. He never reached double digits in homers in any of his four years in the Minor Leagues, topping out at nine in 2011.
But he's developed power at the Major League level over the past two years, leading the Twins with 18 homers last season, and he's already matched that total with 18 heading into the All-Star break this year.
He was rewarded for his sudden power surge with a spot in the Gillette Home Run Derby at Target Field on Monday night. He hit two homers -- the first one traveling 373 feet and his second going 353 feet -- and didn't advance to the second round.
But Dozier said it was an honor to participate in front of the home crowd and thanked American League captain Jose Bautista for asking him to take part.
"It means a lot," Dozier said. "I'm very thankful. Jose picked me to be on the team, a very classy move from a classy man. And the Twins want a hometown guy, and it's awesome representing the Twins here at home."
Dozier was greeted with a loud cheer from Twins fans when announced before the Derby, which was delayed roughly an hour due to rain. Fans continued to cheer for him while he was at the plate, with loud chants of "Dozier, Dozier" ringing through Target Field.
"The crowd was electric," he said. "They kept chanting 'Dozier.' It was one of the highlights of my career, and really my life, to be honest with you. Chills came over my body and everything.
"I know everybody here, especially the fans of the Twins, would be very excited," he added. "Not for myself, but everybody up here, [to see] some of the stars in the game that can hit a lot of home runs. So I am just blessed to be up here along with these guys. It is pretty humbling for me."
Dozier was also able to do it with the help of his brother, Clay, who threw to him. Clay, a left-hander, pitched for Delta State University in their native Mississippi.
Clay, who is two years older than Brian and works as an accountant in their hometown, Tupelo, practiced for weeks to get ready. He throws to Brian in the offseason, and he volunteered to throw to Brian once he heard rumblings that he could participate in the Derby.
"[Brian] called me and said, 'Is your arm ready?' And I was like, 'Really?'" Clay said. "I just told him to take a few pitches in the beginning, but if he takes too many to expect one in the back."
The brothers are very close. Clay watches every one of his brother's games, and the two talk often. But even Clay is surprised by the amount of power his brother has shown over the last two years.
"I have no clue where that came from," Clay said. "He couldn't hit it out of the infield in high school. I don't know if it's because of his lower-body workout. But we're all mesmerized."
So although Dozier didn't advance out of the first round, it was still a special night for the family.
"It was cool," he said. "All my family, 12 of them, were there behind the dugout. So they got to see it all up close. And Clay did a good job. He hung in there. He was pretty much right down the middle every time."
2014 Home Run Derby results
|AL||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Final||Rd. 3||Rd. 2||Rd. 1||NL|
|Brian Dozier||2||1||6||2||Todd Frazier|
|Jose Bautista||10||Bye||4||Cespedes 9||2||4||Troy Tulowitzki|
|Adam Jones||4||3||Frazier 1||0||Yasiel Puig|
|Josh Donaldson||3||0||Bye||6||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Yoenis Cespedes||3||9||7||2||Justin Morneau|