For Benson, bad goes to worse

A tough year is getting tougher for Twins outfield prospect Joe Benson.

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Twins outfield prospect Joe Benson

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune file

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CHICAGO - A tough year is getting tougher for Twins outfield prospect Joe Benson.

Benson broke the hamate bone on his left hand and will miss about six weeks of action. Surgery is scheduled for Friday in Fort Myers, Fla., and Benson will remain there for rehabilitation.

Benson was injured while swinging during his final at-bat Friday with Class AA New Britain. The fact that he's at New Britain is one problem.

Benson made his major league debut last season and began this year at Class AAA Rochester, but he hit .179 in 28 games. So he was demoted to New Britain to get his swing back. Things weren't going any better with the Rock Cats, as he was batting .156 in eight games when he was injured. He won't be back on the field until July.

"Now we're looking at a problem with him not getting a lot of playing time," said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues. "Hopefully he can get going."

And don't forget that Benson was robbed during the offseason while he was in Venezuela to play winter ball. So the last several months have been pretty crummy for him.

Benson, a second-round draft pick in 2006, entered the year ranked as the second-best prospect in the organization by Baseball America.

Pavano is ready

Righthander Carl Pavano is looking forward to his next start Saturday against Detroit.

Pavano has spent this month trying to work through shoulder issues and is making incremental progress. His fastball velocity is starting to creep toward 90 miles an hour, which will help set up his changeup better. Pavano returned to the Twin Cities after his six-inning start at Milwaukee on Saturday to continue his deep tissue massage treatments.

Pavano, 2-3 with a 4.01 ERA, has skipped bullpen sessions between starts, but he felt good enough to throw in the Target Field bullpen on Wednesday and liked the results.

"All is going well," Pavano wrote in an e-mail. "It's better than it was. I threw a pen [Wednesday] and bounced back well. I'm ready to go."

Doumit sits out

Ryan Doumit missed four starts last week because of a sore right calf but was the designated hitter the first two games against the White Sox. He had to dig hard to beat out hits in both games, and the calf is bugging him again. So Twins manager Ron Gardenhire kept Doumit out of the lineup Thursday.

"We told him to take it nice and easy," Gardenhire said, "but you know once you get playing in a game and you see something, you are going to go for it."

Doumit will have to pass a fitness test when the team returns home. Gardenhire needs Doumit to be able to catch.

"The one thing we talked about when we get home is, I told him I want to see him catch some bullpens and want to see him throw to some bases because I'd like to see get him behind the plate,'' Gardenhire said.

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