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Manuel on Benson: June Return Best Bet

Kris Benson made a Minor League start today, throwing 57 pitches and 27 strikes (not a good ratio at all, but he’s getting back into the groove). He gave up six hits and struck out four, and was consistently between 85 and 88 miles per hour. David Murphy of the Daily News wrote about Benson, his start and his return. He said Benson wants to join the team by Opening Day and start throwing to Big League hitters this week — during the Grapefruit League.

Charlie Manuel doesn’t like that.

“I don’t know about May. I definitely think it can happen before June.”

Murphy outlines a possible scenario for Benson. He would pitch to Minor League hitters Tuesday, giving him a chance at a Grapefruit League start of 75 pitches March 23. Benson said he thinks four good starts of 90+ pitches will have him ready to make the jump back to the Majors for good. That timetable has Benson in Philadelphia by late-April or early-May, a little before Manuel’s wishful thoughts.

Benson’s climb back to normal pitching activity has been a quick one so far, so on one hand, you don’t want to rush him and risk further problems. On the other hand, the Phils are still searching for an answer at the back end of the rotation. As of today, Chad Durbin, Travis Blackley and Francisco Rosario remain the major candidates, with the possibility of Adam Eaton returning sooner in the mirror. Sure, the sooner Benson can return — and with good stuff — the better, but you don’t want to end up with a snowball that just falls apart upon touch.

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