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Benson scratched from Minors start

Benson scratched from Minors start

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kris Benson knew his personal road to health would hit a pothole.

The Phillies right-hander, who on Thursday will recognize the one-year anniversary of right rotator cuff surgery that ended his 2007 season, has been scratched from a Minor League start on Tuesday with right shoulder soreness.

Benson described the soreness and "biceps tendinitis" after a bullpen session on Saturday. He didn't throw Monday and will rest Tuesday, then re-evaluate. He hopes he can make his next scheduled turn on Sunday.

"I've been through ups and downs through this whole thing," Benson said. "This is minor compared to the other times that I've had issues. This is just a little blip, some fatigue that has to work it's way out. It's a precautionary thing where I want to give it some rest, and so do the trainers."

This development means Benson likely won't pitch in a Grapefruit League game and won't be ready by Opening Day, though that was believed to be unrealistic.

"It's a normal occurrence for a guy rehabbing," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's probably just taking it to the point where he's fatiguing a little bit, because of the work he's done. The reports we're getting from the trainers are saying this is a normal occurrence for a guy coming off surgery."

The veteran thought he took a big step forward last Thursday, throwing 57 pitches in four innings at the Carpenter Complex. He allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk, while striking out four against Toronto's Class A team. He hoped to do at least the same on Tuesday, while shooting for 70 to 75 pitches, then graduate to the Grapefruit League on Sunday.

That timeline was prudent because it would've allowed Benson to start against a Major League team before March 25, the deadline when he can opt out of his contract if he's not added to the 40-man roster. He had wanted to gauge his progress against stronger competition by that time.

Benson may now have to decide absent of that knowledge.

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"I'm hoping to get at least one more start in," Benson said. "I hope my next start is before the deadline and I'm hoping to skip just one start. [My recovery] is pretty far along. To expect me to go from the first day of camp to the last day of the season without taking a break isn't going to happen. If I can take a break now and use this to build myself up, in the long run, I'm sure it will be a good thing."

Added Dubee: "It's a credit to Kris to be where he's at, but at the same time, his arm is telling him we can't go any quicker. We have to take a step back and let this thing calm down."

Though called "normal," Benson may be scaled back to 45 pitches when he appears in a game, which inherently puts him behind schedule. Once he reaches that point, he'll need to repeat it before moving to the next level.

"He's going to have to get stretch out," Dubee said. "He's going to have to get stretched out to where he can go 90 to 100 pitches and is going to have to take the ball every five days with his arm responding properly. With his stuff improving like we think it will, he'll be evaluated from there.

"He takes a step back now instead of trying to push through this and have a major setback. We feel this hopefully is a minor setback. To lose five days now is nothing compared to losing a month or six weeks [later]."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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