MIN@SEA: Dozier drills a solo home run to deep left

SEATTLE -- Brian Dozier left Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Mariners after 5 1/2 innings with stiffness in his lower back. Manager Ron Gardenhire said his second baseman would be evaluated back in Minnesota before the Twins open a series against Kansas City at Target Field on Tuesday. Dozier had doubled and struck out twice with two assists on groundball outs before Jamey Carroll replaced him.

Dozier said his back had been hurting since Friday's game. He went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts while turning two double plays in Saturday's win over the Mariners.

He said on a swing in the fifth inning Sunday "pain just shot up my back," and he could not get to the pitch. That was when Gardenhire noticed the injury and removed Dozier from the game.

"Just a little back spasm," Dozier said, adding he was hopeful that resting on Monday's off-day would have him ready to play Tuesday.

Dozier batted .222 (6-for-27) on the road trip. His double Sunday extended his hitting streak to seven games, tying a career high he had from May 27 to June 2.

Battling injury, Harden granted release from Twins

SEATTLE -- Former Oakland Athletics strikeout thrower Rich Harden has stopped his latest and perhaps final attempt at a comeback from injuries.

The veteran right-hander who had 181 strikeouts in 148 innings during the 2008 season called Minnesota assistant general manager Rob Antony on Saturday and asked for and was granted his release from the Twins.

Harden told Antony he was done throwing live batting practice sessions because of ongoing shoulder pain. The 31-year-old right-hander had been throwing BP at the Twins' complex in Fort Myers, Fla., in an attempt to pitch for the first time in the Major Leagues since Sept. 25, 2011.

The Twins signed Harden, who started in three postseason series for Oakland and the Chicago Cubs, as a free agent last December. That was after shoulder surgery caused him to miss all of 2012.

"He's had a lat [muscle injury], a shoulder [injury]; he's had a variety of things," Antony said in the Twins' clubhouse at Safeco Field before Sunday's series finale in Seattle. "He couldn't get healthy."

Antony said retirement was a distinct possibility for Harden, who has been the disabled list 10 times in a career that began as a 21-year-old starter for Oakland in 2003. For now, Harden will take a couple of months off from throwing to reassess his comeback chances.

Harden is 59-38 with a 3.76 ERA and 949 strikeouts in 928 1/3 career innings in seven seasons with the A's, two with the Cubs and one (2010) with the Rangers. He has been plagued by shoulder, back, trunk, elbow and latissimus dorsi injuries. The latter one cost him the first 82 games of his lone return season with Oakland in 2011.