It’s been a long, slow climb for Brian Dozier. With a 1-for-4 effort for Washington on Friday night, the Southern Miss alum reached the Mendoza Line, which is only something to celebrate when you’ve been stuck below it since opening day. Dozier, batting an even .200, is 7-for-26 over his last seven games, not a sizzling pace but perhaps an indication that he is finally heating up. Coming off two big years in Minnesota (.268 with 76 home runs in 2016-17), Dozier scuffled in 2018. He hit .227 for the Twins before being traded to the playoff-bound Los Angeles Dodgers at the July deadline. Reportedly troubled by a knee injury, he hit .182 with five homers in 47 games for LA. That led to speculation that his career was suddenly off the rails at 32. “You have one hiccup over the last six or seven years, and it ended up transforming everything,” Dozier told mlb.com after signing as a free agent with the Nationals this off-season. “Putting thoughts into people’s minds that this is who you are instead of what you’ve done your entire career.” The last thing he needed was a slow start, but that’s what happened. He was hitless in March and was at .152 on April 16. He does have five homers but only seven RBIs. The injury-riddled and struggling Nationals need more from Dozier. Maybe he’s ready to put the Mendoza Line in his rearview mirror. P.S. In keeping with a USM theme: Current Golden Eagles slugger Matt Wallner, continuing his recent tear, hit his 15th homer of the season in a big C-USA win at Rice on Friday. Wallner now has 50 career bombs, matching Jeff Cook for second on the team’s all-time list. Marc Maddox hit 53. The single-season record is 23, last accomplished by Cook and Clint King in 2003.