Benson could be ready by end of May

Kris Benson apparently has not received any Phillies gear in the month he's been here.

Kris Benson wants his next appearance to come in a Grapefruit League game. The Phillies seem more inclined to let him start at least one more game against minor league competition. Either way, we got a little more insight today into the team's thinking for Benson's future today. Charlie Manuel told us before the game he think Benson will "definitely" be ready to join the team's rotation by the end of May, assuming his progression continues at its current pace.

“I don’t know about May,” Manuel said. “I definitely think it can happen before June.”

Talking to Benson, you get the feeling he thinks it will happen even before then. He told us earlier today that he could be ready by opening day if the Phillies asked him too.

What's realistic?

Well, let's assume the Phils make him start another minor league game. That'd put him on the mound at the Carpenter Complex on March 18. That would mean he'd probably get a Grapefruit League start on March 23.

After that, a lot depends on how Benson reacts. He said he thinks he'll have to have two or three good outings at 90+ pitches to convince the Phillies he's ready to go.

In today's minor league game, he threw 57 pitches, 27 of them for strikes. His last pitch was clocked at 86 miles per hour. Consistently, he was throwing between 85 and 88.

He struck out four and allowed six hits.

"Stretching it out is the key," Benson said. "Once I get up to that pitch count level I need to be at, then we’ll start talking serious business and trying to get all my pitches in order. This was just another stepping stone. I’m hoping that I get a chance to get out there next time out and pitch in a Grapefruit League game and pitch on a quality mound and get a chance to pitch against some quality hitters and get some really good feedback. I think I still have to do it before camp breaks. I've got to get out there a couple of times to face major league hitters instead of continuing to face minor league guys and then my first taste of big league hitters is my first outing in Philly. It’s not a situation I want to be in ."