Lidge, Benson Make Progress

Phillies closer Brad Lidge said today in Clearwater he hopes to throw off a mound Monday, which could put him on course to returning to action March 17 -- giving him a couple weeks to get ready for the March 31 season opener against the Nationals.

Lidge is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"Obviously, everything has to keep going right like it has gone so far," Lidge said. "But if it does, I'm still assuming and being optimistic about the start of the season."

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Kris Benson will pitch in a minor-league spring training game Saturday.

"Everything is a straight line upward," Benson said. "It's going to be fun. It's been a year and a half. Big league, minor league, it doesn't matter to me. As long as I get out there and face some hitters and take one more step closer to getting out here and pitching on the big-league field."

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