Report: Mets lowball Benson

According to a report in Friday's <I>New York Post</I>, the Mets have offered righthander Kris Benson a two-year contract worth approximately $12 million. <P> However, because the contract's first year represents a pay cut over Benson's 2004 salary of $6.1 million, the free-agent-to-be is likely to reject the deal, the newspaper reported.

The report comes a day after Benson pitched well in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, allowing three runs over six innings in New York's 10-3 victory.

The Mets took the second game, 4-2, behind David Wright's two-run home run in the ninth inning, a contest marred by an ugly injury to Joe McEwing on a take-out slide by J.D. Closser that could shelve the utilityman for the remainder of the season with what appears to be a fractured leg.

Regarding Benson, many have speculated that his free-agent status with the Mets is a slam-dunk – after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a July 30 trade for Ty Wigginton, Matt Peterson and Justin Huber, insiders said that Benson had already consummated a "wink-wink" handshake agreement to re-up with the club after the season's conclusion.

On that topic, Benson spent a recent off-day shopping for apartments in Manhattan – something he surely wouldn't do if he was considering his stint with the Mets a two-month rental – and Benson's wife, Anna, is interested in opening a boutique in New York.

But if the Post's figures are correct, the Mets appear to have low-balled Benson and agent Gregg Clifton in the initial stage of negotiations. It remains to be seen if that will affect the mindset of Benson, who reached double digits in victories Thursday by improving to 10-9 on the season.

News Roundup

  • McEwing had to be helped off the field in the sixth inning of the nightcap when Closser slid hard into second base attempting to break up a double play. The Mets claimed that Closser's slide was not a clean play, and Braden Looper fired a 95 MPH fastball into the rookie's lower leg during his next plate appearance, prompting Looper's ejection without a warning.

    Though the Mets weren't happy with either set of circumstances, Mets manager Art Howe said that he was satisfied the Mets had doled out their own form of justice – helped, of course, by the fact that New York swept the doubleheader.

    "Sometimes, some things have to be taken care of on the field," Howe told reporters. "And we took care of it."

    With McEwing almost a total certainty to need time on the disabled list, the Mets are planning to call up infielder Jeff Keppinger on Friday. Keppinger, a slap-hitting throw-in from the Pirates in the Benson deal, was hitting .353 in five games for Triple-A Norfolk and hit .362 in 14 games for Double-A Binghamton.

  • With a three-run homer in the first game of the doubleheader, his 26th of the season, Mike Cameron set a new career high and matched Tommie Agee's team record for homers by a center fielder in a single season.

    Cameron has admitted that he's already looking forward to notching a 30-30 season, if he can steal the bases within the regular flow of a game. He needs four home runs and 10 stolen bases to reach that mark.

  • Mike DeJean was hit on the left shin by a batted ball in game one of Thursday's doubleheader, and precautionary X-rays were negative.

  • According to the New York Daily News, Mets team captain John Franco has told team brass to consider releasing him if he no longer fit into the club's plans.

    Franco, who turns 44 in September, has pitched just once in the month of August. He left the team during the Colorado series to be with his wife, Rose, who just gave birth to the couple's third child.

  • Newsday reports that Kaz Matsui took batting practice and played catch with Jose Reyes Thursday in Port St. Lucie, and Matsui could take ground balls at second base soon, according to a source.

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