CLEARWATER, Fla. -- While it's not out of the ordinary to see a pet strolling through the clubhouse, be it Pat Burrell's English bulldog, Elvis, or Cole Hamels' Maltese, Royce, heads turned when Kris Benson arrived with the two newest additions to his rather large family. A pair of marmosets. The tiny, 3-week-old South American monkeys were purchased by Benson's wife, Anna, through a local breeder. The 5- to 6-inch creatures, which Benson said cost about $2,000 each, arrived on Monday.
"We've been looking at them for a while," he said. "I came home yesterday and everybody was laughing at me when I came in. I looked down on the counter and there were these Barbie Doll clothes. I knew what it was." The Benson's adopted a brother and sister because, "It's better to keep them in pairs because they grow up together and have somebody to play with." Benson plans to have the marmosets as frequent clubhouse visitors. Jokingly named Shane and Jimmy -- though those names likely won't stick -- they are the team's new rally monkeys. Seriously. Avid animals lovers, the Benson's menagerie also includes nine dogs, a tank full of fish, and one cat, not to mention the couple's three children. In the wild, marmosets are active creatures, living in the upper canopy of trees, and feeding on insects, fruit and leaves. Benson's marmosets are kept in a cage, but he's aware of their need for a lot of space. "They'll hop around and hang from stuff," Benson said. "When we build our next house, we'll build a big ol' barn in the back." The siblings will grow to about eight inches long and have a life expectancy of 15 to 17 years. "They'll be around for a while," Benson said. "They'll get used to people." No place to start like Benson's teammates.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.