Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier (Fulton, Southern Miss) steps in on Thursday night for his first at-bat with the New York Mets.

NEW YORK Not long ago, Brian Dozier wasn’t even sure he wanted to play this season.

Once he made up his mind and joined the New York Mets, it didn’t take long for the former Southern Miss standout from Fulton to crack the starting lineup.

The veteran second baseman was summoned to Citi Field from the team’s alternate training site in Brooklyn before Thursday night’s series finale against Boston. New York placed reserve infielder Eduardo Núñez on the injured list with a bruised left knee and selected Dozier, who was signed to a minor league contract last week.

“I think it’s a good spot,” Dozier said.

The right-handed-hitting Dozier batted seventh Thursday night as regular second baseman Robinson Canó was rested against Red Sox lefty Martín Pérez. Dozier was called out on strikes in his first plate appearance with the Mets and grounded into a double play in the fourth.

The Mets lost 4-2.

Dozier’s wife is around 18 weeks pregnant with their second child, and he said he was “kind of back-and-forth” and leaning toward not playing this season until his wife helped convince him otherwise during a month of quarantine together. She and their 11-month-old daughter plan to join him in New York in about two weeks.

“She kicked me out of the house and said you need to start playing,” Dozier said, calling it a good decision. “So we’re here.”

The 33-year-old Dozier said he also spoke to good buddy Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals, who opted out of playing this year due to the pandemic.

“We kind of bounced a lot of things off each other,” Dozier said. “It was a tough decision. It really was.”

Dozier was an All-Star with the Minnesota Twins in 2015. He had 42 home runs and 99 RBIs for them the following season, and 34 homers with 93 RBIs in 2017 when he won a Gold Glove. Dozier won a World Series ring with the Washington Nationals last year, batting .238 with 20 homers, 50 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 135 games.

“He’s got pedigree,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “This guy’s always been able to hit – particularly against left-handed pitching.”

Dozier signed a minor league contract with San Diego in February that would have paid him $2.2 million in the majors. He called his unpleasant experience with the Padres a “debacle” and said it took a while to get out of the deal.

“I love people to be honest with me and let’s just say, I’ll leave it at that, that that wasn’t the case over there by any means,” Dozier said. “And so, I had to get outta there. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Dozier was released earlier this month and said he received interest from four or five teams while working out back home in Mississippi. He chose the Mets – partly because of how they’re handling the coronavirus pandemic, and safety measures they have in place.

“Whatever the team needs to try to win, I’m here,” Dozier said.

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus