Benitez, who was signed to a Minor League contract by Toronto and given an invite to big league camp on March 11, has yet to obtain a proper working visa. The 35-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is currently in camp with a visitor's visa, according to a team spokesperson.
"There's something he has to have in his pocket before he can pitch," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said prior to Toronto's game against Boston at City of Palms Park on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays had hoped to use Benitez in Thursday's game against the Yankees at Knology Park in Dunedin, Fla. Until the right-hander has his new visa in hand, he might be able to appear in Minor League games, considering there is no fee for fans to attend those contests.
Benitez threw in a bullpen session for Toronto on Sunday, showing off his sinker, split-finger fastball and slider and hitting roughly 91-92 mph on some pitches, according to Blue Jays bullpen coach Bruce Walton. Benitez was scheduled to throw a batting practice session on Tuesday, but Walton said the club felt the pitcher was far enough along to forego that step.
Last season, Benitez had stints with both the San Francisco Giants and Florida Marlins. Between both stops, he finished 2-8 with a 5.37 ERA and 17 saves in 54 games. Benitez has compiled 289 career saves, including a 47-save showing in 2004 with the Marlins, over his 14 seasons in the Majors.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less