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Dozier, Suzuki try to spark Twins from top of lineup

Dozier, Suzuki try to spark Twins from top of lineup

CHICAGO -- The Twins tried out several different lineups in Spring Training, trying to find hitters to bat in front of Joe Mauer, and went with Brian Dozier as leadoff hitter with Kurt Suzuki batting second on Monday against the White Sox.

The decision to bat Dozier leadoff against left-hander Chris Sale wasn't a surprise, as he fared well in that role last season, hitting .253/.310/.462 with 12 homers and seven stolen bases in 74 games atop the order. But Suzuki batting second was more of an interesting decision, as he has a career .309 on-base percentage and just a .282 on-base percentage over the last two seasons.

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But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he likes Suzuki's ability to handle the bat, despite the fact he's not a prototypical No. 2 hitter.

"We settled on Suzuki batting second because he's a great contact guy," Gardenhire said. "And with [Sale] pitching, you have to put the ball in play."

Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said he talked to Gardenhire about the lineup, and the manager explained he could use Suzuki in hit-and-run situations to help manufacture runs. Antony also said that the lineup will be fluid, and that Suzuki isn't locked into batting second this year.

"He takes good at-bats," Antony said. "He can hit and run. Dozier is not a prototypical leadoff guy in that he's not a 50-stolen base guy. So there are some things we might do hit-and-run-wise. So we're going to try to manufacture runs. So at least on Opening Day, Gardy wants to see what [Suzuki] can do in the two-hole."

Dozier went 0-for-4 in the 5-3 loss, but Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and three RBIs.

"It definitely feels good, especially when you're back there and you give up a couple runs, so it's nice to get a couple back," Suzuki said. "It felt good to start off the season like that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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