Benson buys more time from Phils
Phillies refitting right-hander's deal with new deadline
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kris Benson's clothes hung in his locker on Wednesday morning, next to Phillies T-shirts and spare uniform parts.Despite the pitcher being a ghost, as he is most mornings spent in the athletic trainer's room, the locker evidence proved Benson was still with the Phillies. The well-documented deadline came and went Tuesday with nothing significant movement from either side. The Phillies didn't add Benson to the 40-man roster, but the right-hander didn't void his Minor League deal signed in February, as was his right, and become a free agent. Instead, according to sources, Benson's agent, Gregg Clifton, and the Phillies refitted the pitcher's deal with a new deadline, possibly for May 1 or May 15, buying each side more time to gauge the pitcher's progress. Had Benson been added, a $500,000 salary would have been triggered. That can still happen, once he's activated. "I'm happy here," Benson said. "I'm feeling good with the clubhouse, the pitching coach and the manager. The winning attitude here, the excitement going into the season, it's a win-win situation from my standpoint. From their standpoint, they have another starting pitcher they can count on down the road." Benson's smooth road back from shoulder surgery hit a bump last week when he developed right biceps tendinitis, which prevented him from throwing for four days and cost him two rehab starts. The setback also delays his Major League return and means he will earn fewer performance incentives through the full season. The right-hander resumed throwing last week, and has been on an every-other-day schedule, though he's not sure when he'll throw off a mound, let alone in a game. "I just want to be a part of their plans and get back healthy," Benson said. While Opening Day was ambitious to begin with, a new goal, according to assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., is "late May, early June." Benson is done speculating on his return. "That's too far off," Benson said. "I can't tell. I couldn't tell when I got here how long it was going to take or how far out I was. This is a situation where I need to build up so many days of playing catch, and then a few days of long toss, and bullpens and simulated again -- redo everything I just did."
In other words, it's too early for a deadline. Either way, Benson feels as if he's made progress.
"Despite the setback, I feel I was able to progress nicely," he said. "I was able to build my arm strength to a certain point, and then I had to take a step back and have to build it back up again. I've put myself in a position to rebound nicely."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.