– The Twins on Friday optioned outfielder Joe Benson and lefthander Pedro Hernandez to Class AAA Rochester and reassigned righthander Luis Perdomo and third baseman Deibinson Romero to the minor league camp.

Romero remains embroiled in visa issues in the Dominican Republic and has been unable to report to camp.

Benson batted .151 this spring after a horrible start. Yet the Twins saw his at-bats improve as camp went along and already know he can run and throw.

“We’re excited for him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Hopefully he will continue that process and get to swinging and get back up here because he can help a baseball team.”

After Benson missed chunks of last season because of surgeries on his wrist and knee, the Twins believe he needs consistent playing time to regain his status as one of the best prospects in the organization.

That leaves Aaron Hicks and Darin Mastroianni left in the battle for the starting center field spot. All indications point to Hicks, who has had a fine all-around spring, but Gardenhire was not ready to announce anything yet.

“We’ll let you know as we go along here who’s going to be the starter,” Gardenhire said.

The cuts trimmed the Twins’ camp roster to 38 players.

Matter of procedure

Lefthander Scott Diamond remains on track to make his season debut April 12. So read nothing into the fact that he was placed on the 15-day disabled list, along with righthander Anthony Swarzak.

The earliest the two can come off the DL is April 6. The Twins will have to find a spot starter for April 7, the first time they need a fifth starter.

Diamond is now throwing every fifth day on the minor league fields and building up arm strength for April 12.


• Trevor Plouffe was 2-for-3 in his return to action following a right calf strain. The third baseman was charged with a fielding error in the second inning on a ball he lost in the background of white shirts in the stands.

• Lefthander Tyler Robertson’s chances of making the team suffered a big blow when he was charged with four runs on five hits and a walk in the eighth inning. “Not good,” Gardenhire said. “Not good at all.” Robertson’s spring ERA rose from 4.32 to 7.74 after his rough Yankees outing.

• The Twins announced their second sellout crowd of camp at 8,366, which was the largest crowd in Hammond Stadium spring training history.

• Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning. Morneau’s was an opposite-field drive over the wall in left. Doumit’s was crushed over the wall in right-center.

On deck

The Twins head to Port Charlotte to play the Rays. Righthander Kevin Correia will start for the Twins while lefthander David Price goes for the Rays. First pitch is at 12:05 p.m., and the game will be aired on Fox Sports North Plus.

La Velle E. Neal III