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Relaxed Semien picks good time to bust slump

 CHICAGO -- Marcus Semien broke out of his early-season slump in a big way Thursday against the Twins.

With the game tied and one out in the eighth, Semien stepped to the plate having started the year 0-for-13 and launched a 2-2 fastball from Minnesota reliever Caleb Thielbar past the Sox bullpen in left. The Sox wound up losing the wild, back-and-forth game, 10-9, but Semien was briefly the hero with what was a timely first hit of 2014.

"I was just trying to be a little bit more quiet and keep my head on the ball," Semien said. "I've been seeing lefties a little bit better since Spring Training, and they threw me a fastball middle in and I put a good swing on it and barreled it up."

Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Thursday's game he thought Semien was pressing a bit at the plate. Prior to the home run, Semien picked up his first RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the sixth after falling behind in the count, 1-2. Semien said that tough seven-pitch at-bat, in which he fouled off a couple of quality two-seam fastballs, seemed to relax him.

"In that situation, [I had] one out, runner on third, which I've had a lot of times and I didn't come through the last couple of times," he said. "So it felt good to get on base and get a run in at the same time."

Semien made a good bid for a hit Opening Day, when he rocked a Ricky Nolasco pitch into the left-center-field gap but was robbed of extra bases by left fielder Josh Willingham, who made an over-the-shoulder catch.

"That's why it's the big leagues, they make plays behind their pitchers just like we do," Semien said. "You've got to earn your hits."

Joe Popely is an associate reporter for
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