Benson thinks he has locked up spot on team; Durbin rocked

Kris Benson is pretty positive he'll be a Phillie this season. Officially, that is still up in the air. The veteran right-hander is currently only signed to a minor league deal. And he's only making $100,000. And he's got an opt-out clause in his contract that will take effect should the Phillies not name him to the 40-man roster by March 25.

So should any one worry about Benson flying the coop?

Right now, it appears not. The Phillies are thrilled with the way Benson has progressed. When they signed him Feb. 13, they cautiously reminded reporters that Benson was coming off rotator cuff surgery, and that he was only throwing at 60 to 70 percent of his velocity. But Benson has avoided any peaks and valleys typical of rehab, instead progressing in a steady line that has seen him gain arm strength and increase workout throughout is month or so with the team.

Especially with the way the competitors for the No. 5 spot in the rotation are pitching - J.D. Durbin was the latest to get shelled, allowing six doubles in 3 1/3 inning in a loss to the Pirates - Benson looks like a very real option this season.

But assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cautioned not to carve Benson's name into the mound just yet.

"We can’t put ourselves in a position to count on him as  our number five," Amaro Jr. said. "We have to work to hope to see that somebody else is going to be stepping up to take that job. Right now, as we’ve said before, we’re letting people compete for that job and we’ll see who takes a strong hold of it."

That said. . .

"I think that he’s shown that he’s got very good opportunity to be with us," Amaro Jr. said. "Based on how he’s thrown and where we are with regard to our pitching, it’s pretty evident that he still seems to be a pretty good option."

But it remains to be seen when the Phillies will add Benson to the roster. Obviously, they want to make sure Benson doesn't suffer any major set-backs. A promotion would mean $500,000 more in guaranteed money for Benson.

"I don’t think I’m going to have to exercise the out clause, personally," Benson said. "I think the team is satisfied with what they see. I don’t have a problem with them coming to me before, even tomorrow, it doesn’t matter to me. If they want to keep me. It’d kind of be smart for them to go ahead and lock it up and just forget about it, than it is to kind of drag it out and wait till the very end of the deadline. If they like what they see, I don’t think things are going to change, unless they just want to see if something happens (injury). I don’t think anything’s going to happen."