"He was 88-89 [mph] the other day, he can sink the ball pretty
well now. He's got four pitches, good command," D-backs GM Josh
Byrnes said. "Like any pitcher, the more he's out there, the
better his stuff is going to get. He's reinvented himself a little
bit but he's still got plenty of stuff to give himself a chance."
Benson was the first overall pick in the 1996 First-Year Player
Draft. Initially selected by the Pirates, Benson has also pitched
for the Mets, Orioles and Rangers in parts of eight seasons.
"Probably the tricky thing is the quality of his resume, [being
the] first pick in the Draft, [he's had] a good career, but also
understands here and now where he fits," Byrnes said. "He's got to
come in and compete and ultimately outperform people in order to
get a shot, but he embraced the opportunity and we're glad to have
Benson had rotator cuff surgery in 2007 and did not pitch in the
big leagues that year or in '08. Last season, he was 1-1 with an
8.46 ERA in eight games (two starts) for the Rangers.
Getting a look at Benson this spring in big league games will be
somewhat challenging, but the fact that he has already built up
his arm strength will help him.
"We probably have at least one [Major League] game earmarked that
we can give him," Byrnes said. "He's already progressed out to
five innings, 80-85 pitches. I think we'll probably get him into
one Major League game possibly more between now and Opening Day."
Right-hander Brandon Webb will start the season on the disabled
list, but Byrnes said signing Benson was more a product of the
team adding to its inventory of starting pitchers rather than as a
replacement for Webb.
"Any attempt to improve our depth we feel is worth doing," Byrnes
Steve Gilbert is
a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.