Leslie’s Lowdown

Inside Phillies baseball

Posts Tagged ‘Kris Benson’

Eaton still searching for answers

Posted by jrfinger on March 10, 2008

Leslie talks baseball on 610-WIP

Adam EatonCLEARWATER, Fla. – Adam Eaton thinks he’s going to be the team’s fifth starter. I don’t see it. It’s only because the Phillies are on the hook for $7.6 million dollars that he’s even in that position in the first place.

After limping through September last season, Eaton was left off the postseason roster. A move even he understood. After an off-season full of rehab and workouts focusing on his core, Eaton came into camp proclaiming he was fit and ready to perform the way a starting pitcher making that much money should perform.

We’ve yet to see it.

Eaton is 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA this spring. He’s shown little to get excited about and in fact, didn’t look much different than the hobbled veteran he was at the end of last year. Suddenly his back hurt. An injury Eaton never mentioned to the team during the off season. Yes, he did receive treatment for his back last year, but the pain always went away.

An MRI done Saturday revealed a slight disc herniation. Eaton threw 41 pitches during a bullpen session on Monday morning in which he felt no discomfort. He’ll throw again Wednesday and thinks he’ll be ready to pitch again on Saturday.

The clock is ticking and while nobody has made much of a case to take over that fifth spot, Eaton hasn’t made a case for why he should keep it. While Eaton may be pain free, Phillies fans won’t be if he doesn’t turn things around in a hurry.

Options
When the Phillies signed Kris Benson it looked like a good idea, but maybe not one that would pan out with Eaton seemingly ready to reclaim his spot in the rotation. Now that Eaton is struggling and Benson is creeping ever so close to game shape, it’s starting to look like a really nice option for the Phillies. Benson may not be ready until late April or early May, but when he is I think he’ll become an integral part of the Phillies’ rotation. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone else will emerge out of nowhere.

Chad Durbin may work his way into the rotation, but Durbin makes more sense in the bullpen to me. What may happen is that Durbin starts the year in the rotation and when Benson is ready Durbin can move back to the bullpen, where he’ll be a long-relief guy along with Ryan Madson. Durbin saw time in both roles last year with the Tigers and had success in both places. His flexibility is a valuable asset.

The other Durbin
Speaking of Durbins, J.D. Durbin started Monday against the Pirates in Bradenton. J.D. is also in the running for that fifth spot, but won’t be soon if he keeps pitching like he did Monday. Durbin gave up 5 runs on 8 hits over 3⅓ innings of work. That means that over the last seven games, every starter not named Myers has struggled to get outs. They say competition is healthy, but the only thing healthy right now seems to be the ERAs of the starting pitcher candidates. OK, maybe bloated is a better word.

Myers update
While so many starters are stuggling, Brett Myers has been on cruise control. Granted he’s been taking on a lot of minor leaguers as the Phillies’ brass watches the others duke it out against big league hitters, but as Myers pointed out, the minor leaguers like to feed on fastballs, and he relies pretty heavily on his fastball.

Myers threw a minor league game at the Carpenter Complex on Monday. He threw 75 pitches over 5⅔ innings. He gave a up a 2-run homer to Jake Blalock in the first inning but after that he settled in. Myers retired the last 12 batters he faced.

He said afterwards that he felt good but is feeling a little sore as he stretches out for the season. Myers hasn’t pitched this many consecutive innings since last April. The kind of soreness he’s feeling is to be expected.

Now if they could just get that many innings out of their other starters.

Lidge update
Brad Lidge threw off the mound on Monday for the first time since knee surgery. He threw 25 pitches and looked good. In a perfect world he could be back by March 31 (Opening Day) and so far, all is perfect. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said he sees that return date as a very real possibility.

If the Phillies need to get by for a few games without Lidge, they’re not worried, nor should they be. Tom Gordon has made a living out of the back end of the bullpen. They’ll be fine. More than just getting Lidge back on the mound, people want to see him get there and stay there without further injury. Can he be the closer he once was? That’s the $6.4 million question.

Too strong
Everyone should stop worrying about Kyle Kendrick … for now. And no, his “trade to Japan” is not, in any way, having an effect on how he pitches when he takes the mound.

As Dubee explained on Sunday, Kendrick is a sinker-ball pitcher and right now his ball isn’t sinking because Kendrick is “too strong right now.” Yes, too strong. If you throw a sinker ball too hard it’s not going to sink. The Phillies got Kyle from Double-A Reading last year after he had 70 or so innings under his belt. Kendrick, like Cole Hamels, isn’t likely to tear it up in spring training because of the way he pitchers.

Kendrick said there’s no reason to be concerned and if you hear him say it, you believe him. He said if it’s still like this in June, then he’ll be concerned. While he’s, to some extent, kidding, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes him a good month into the season before he really settles down.

R&R
The Phillies get their first and only day off of the Spring on Tuesday. A much needed day of rest. The teams have been going at it pretty hard since mid-February. Chase Utley actually gets two consecutive days of downtime. Utley was the only regular to not make the trip to Bradenton on Monday. Instead Chase stayed behind and worked out at Bright House Field.

We sat down with Utley and talked about a number of things, some on the field stuff, some on the field. When he allows himself, Utley can be very funny. We saw him crack a smile a few times. We’ll bring you that interview Tuesday on SportsNite.

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Phillies sign the Bensons

Posted by jrfinger on February 13, 2008

BensonsCLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies have agreed to terms with Anna Benson.

Tell the truth, that’s what you’re thinking. Anna Benson is coming to town. In 2004 FHM Magazine named her baseball’s hottest wife. That same year, the husband of the former Penthouse Model won 12 games pitching for the Pirates and Mets.

Kris Benson is now headed to Philadelphia, and, according to assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr,, he’s the last player the team plans on pursuing before the season starts (although he didn’t rule out moves during spring training, specifically at the overcrowded hot corner).

Benson spent seven seasons in the big leagues. He’s posted double digit wins in five of them. He’s 10 months removed from rotator cuff, surgery and Phillies Scout Chuck LaMar said that while Benson’s got his command back, he’s about 60-70 percent recovered in terms of his velocity. When asked for a timeline for Benson’s return, LaMar said he could be Major League ready anywhere between the start of the season and the beginning of June.

Benson and the team agreed to terms on a minor league contract, which is pending a physical. Benson will meet with Phillies team doctor Micheal Ciccotti on Thursday and could be in Clearwater as early as Friday.

He said, she said
Throughout the day on Wednesday players could be found in front of the TV watching the Congressional hearings. Even the guys who tried to avoid it couldn’t because the two plasmas hanging in the clubhouse were tuned to the proceedings from beginning to end.

While players were hoping out loud that Roger Clemens is cleared of any wrongdoing, they’re privately questioning his innocence/guilt just as everyone else is. For guys like pitcher Scott Mathieson, they hope to see Clemens name cleared because they grew up idolizing him. For players like Brad Lidge, it’s a different story. Lidge played with Clemons and Andy Pettitte in Houston and spoke openly about his admiration for both players. Lidge said that no matter what happens, Clemens is still a future Hall of Famer in his eyes.

Early arrival
New third basemen Pedro Feliz is in Clearwater already, even though he doesn’t need to be here until the 19th. Feliz said he’s here to work and get with his new teammates. Feliz has spent his entire eight-year career with the San Francisco Giants.

Feliz is the leading man in the aforementioned over-crowded hot corner. The odd man out will likely be Wes Helms. Greg Dobbs is the third member of that crew. Dobbs proved himself valuable last year with the ability to play the corners of both the infield and outfield while coming up big off the bench.

Just married
Mathieson was throwing a bullpen session while on his honeymoon in Hawaii when he felt a pinch in his elbow. I must admit, I thought throwing a bullpen session while on his honeymoon was a little unromantic (“not tonight honey, I have to throw a bullpen session), but I guess if you’re going to suffer a career setback, Hawaii isn’t a bad place to do it.

Mathieson broke into the Major Leagues two years ago. He was called upon to fill a hole in the Phillies injury plagued starting rotation. Mathieson was attempting to make a case to stay in the big leagues when he went down with an injury. Tommy John surgery soon followed.

The encouraging news is, after visiting Dr. Ciccotti in Philadelphia this week, an ultrasound revealed no nerve or ligament damage. Mathieson will now fly to California this weekend to see renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yokum for a second opinion. If healthy, Mathieson could compete for a roll in the starting rotation this season.

Man or machine?
Winning starts now!! That’s what the back of the T-shirt reads that’s hanging in every locker in the clubhouse. But it’s what’s on the front of the shirt that has everyone laughing. It’s a picture of Pat Burrell from early in his big league career doing biceps curls (you may remember the picture from one of the Phillies promotional campaigns) and under the picture it reads, Man or Machine.

The shirts were made by one of Burrell’s “close friends” in the clubhouse. The joke will be really funny when Burrell returns Thursday and sees them. Burrell is in Miami Wednesday to be inducted into the University of Miami Hall of Fame.

Here’s a nice promotion idea: Print those shirts to sell to all the women that want to wear Pat Burrell around town and make another shirt for the guys. I’ll bet Anna Benson would be happy to pitch in for her new team.

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