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Minnesota Twins Joe Benson practiced bunting during batting practice early Sunday, February 26, 2012 in Ft. Myers, FL.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Benson, off to slow start, breaks out with a homer

  • March 11, 2012 - 9:25 PM

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Baseball America recently ranked outfielder Joe Benson as the Twins' second-best prospect, but he opened spring training with one hit -- and seven strikeouts -- in his first 12 at-bats.

"You know who knew that more than you? He did," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's got to quit worrying about that stuff and quit thinking about it."

Benson, 24, had something else to think about Sunday after smashing a long home run off Yankees righthander Adam Warren. That broke a scoreless, fifth-inning tie, and the Twins later got home runs from Danny Valencia and Michael Hollimon in a 5-1 victory.

"It felt good," said Benson, who hit 16 home runs last year for Class AA New Britain. "I didn't have any home runs in September [in 71 at-bats for the Twins] and didn't have any in Venezuela [during winter ball]. I kind of hit a dry patch."

Benson also lined a single, raising his average to .214. On Saturday against Pittsburgh, he made a spectacular running catch in center field.

"That was unbelievable," Gardenhire said. "He outran the ball. They say you can't, but he did."

JOE CHRISTENSEN

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