Mauer still bothered by injury but aims to play

Dozier, eyeing HR marks for second basemen, will start final six games

Mauer still bothered by injury but aims to play

KANSAS CITY -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is set to start in each of Minnesota's final six games against the non-contending Royals and White Sox, while first baseman Joe Mauer said he's not ready to shut it down despite dealing with a strained right quad.

Manager Paul Molitor met with Dozier before Tuesday's game against Kansas City about his playing time this week, and Dozier told him he wanted to play in the rest of the remaining games.

"They pay you to play, right?" Dozier said. "I feel great. They don't pay you to take a day off."

With 42 homers, Dozier is one away from tying the Major League record for homers by a player who primarily played second base. And with 40 homers as a second baseman, he's two away from tying the MLB record for homers hit by a second baseman.

Dozier, though, entered Tuesday with one homer over his last 10 games, and Molitor said it's likely hard for him not to think about the homer chase. He also trails Baltimore's Mark Trumbo by three blasts for the Major League lead.

"He's been so torrid in his pace, particularly the power numbers, to think that was going to continue through the rest of the season was probably a little bit too elevated," Molitor said. "I think he's trying to finish strongly, but [he] probably has those things in the back of his mind."

Dozier's record-setting home run

Mauer, meanwhile, was held out of the lineup on Tuesday, but he said he's hopeful to play again this week. He also clarified what's been bothering him, as he strained his right quad while running the bases in Atlanta on Aug. 16, and it led to issues with his left leg while compensating.

"I'm not feeling very good to be honest with you," Mauer said. "It's been a tough five, six weeks or whatever it's been since the Atlanta series. I've had two or three setbacks since then. It's been a grind."

Mauer has struggled since sustaining the injury, hitting .146 with a homer and five doubles in 22 games, but he said he owes it to the organization and his teammates to continue to try to play.

"I'm going to try to be available every day," Mauer said. "It's been bothering me for a while and it's led to other things, but I'm trying to be available every day. That's my goal. That's what I know, I guess. I'm trying to show them what it means to be professional. Just trying to come in every day ready to go."

Mauer, who plans to spend most of the offseason in Minnesota, added he's confident his leg injuries will heal with rest and won't require surgery.

"I'll get some rest," Mauer said. "That's what I need. It'll get here soon enough."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.