Hot Stove: Benson airs it out for scouts
Right-hander impresses in workout; Dodgers, Rays sign vets
Kris Benson threw 60 pitches in the Arizona desert on Monday, jazzing his agent and blowing the minds of the scouts who were on hand to watch him throw.The Dodgers signed a backup catcher, and the much-traveled Cliff Floyd found a new home, taking another key outfielder off the free-agent market. There's a week to go before Christmas, and we're tying it all up in a neat bow in this edition of the Hot Stove Report ... Benson: It was 60 degrees and sunny on Monday in Phoenix as scouts gathered to watch Benson take his surgically repaired arm out of mothballs. Among the group were members of the Yankees, Mets, Astros, Nationals and Phillies, all looking for pitching help. Reports were good, as Benson showed little wear and tear after missing the 2007 season in Baltimore because of surgery to repair a torn labrum. Benson felt no pain, said his agent, Greg Clifton. "I thought it went very well," Clifton told MLB.com. "There were 25 scouts in attendance. From an overall perspective, I thought it was a very effective workout and he showed that he is 100 percent recovered from his injury and he is way ahead of schedule on his normal offseason program." The top pick overall by the Pirates in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, Benson has played for three teams in his eight seasons: Pittsburgh, the Mets and Orioles. Benson, 33, is 68-73 with a 4.43 ERA. "For the right team, like the Phillies, it's a great opportunity," Clifton was quoted as saying in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He's a seasoned Major League veteran who's battled this injury for the last couple seasons prior to '07. He sucked it up and pitched, so '08 could be a tremendous year for him because he's finally healthy. ... There's not a lot of long-term risk, either, and great potential upside." Benson, who received a $500,000 buyout on his $7.5 million 2008 option from Baltimore, should be a bargain. Right now, though, there are no reported offers. Dodgers: Los Angeles signed the much-traveled Gary Bennett as a backup to Russell Martin. This is the eighth team for Bennett, who is the answer to this trivia question: Who made the last out in the Padres' last game at Qualcomm Stadium, played at the end of the 2003 season? Bennett struck out swinging. Of note is that Bennett is the first signing of any of the free agents mentioned in the Mitchell Report since it was released on Thursday.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.