Benson Trade Interest High

With the July 31 trade deadline approaching interest in Pittsburgh' right-handed pitcher Kris Benson is peaking. Several contending clubs have had scouts at Benson's recent starts. The teams most often mentioned as possible destinations for Benson are the New York Yankees and New York Mets, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Anaheim, Minnesota, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Benson has been on a roll of late and that has spurred interest. In his last start on July 3 Benson defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 and upped his record to 6-7. He pitched seven strong innings limiting the Brewers to two runs on eight hits and it was the fourth consecutive start that he worked at least seven innings.

Benson's turn around can be traced back to a meeting with the manager and the coaches on May 31 after a poor start against St. Louis before the team embarked on a long road trip. Benson with the urging of the coaching staff made some mechanical adjustments and has been pretty effective since.

The points raised were that Benson should use his changeup more, stop "nibbling" at the plate and be more aggressive in the strike zone.

"Everything has been going real good," Benson said. "My ball is moving when it comes into the zone at a steeper plane. Unfortunately I went through a streak there where I was doing the wrong thing and fortunately we were able to catch it a little bit and turn things around and it's something I'll be able to use for the rest of the season."

What did Benson change?

"I was moving my head too much on delivery and I have settled that down," He explained. . "Guys have been hitting me hard and we found that I was showing the ball too early in my delivery. I think it made a big difference, as they aren't getting as many good cuts as they did earlier in the season."

Following his last start against the Brewers Pirates' manager Lloyd McClendon was very pleased.

"This is as good as I've ever seen him pitch," McClendon said. "He's becoming a leader on the mound that we always though he could be. What Kris Benson is doing is no fluke. He's throwing extremely well. He made the changes he needed to make. As a result, he's been the dominant guy we thought he could be."

And there in lies the rub. Benson is starting to show signs of putting it together and Pittsburgh is trying to trade him. He could turnout to be another Esteban Loaiza. But with Benson becoming a free agent at the end of the year and owed $3 million on his contract, he is gone and he knows it.

"I know there are people up there and that certain teams are watching me," Benson said. "Like I've always said, I may think about it two hours before a game. Come to minutes before the game, I'm thinking about getting Brewers hitters out, making pitches and helping myself and the team."

Right now he is helping himself into another uniform with a contender.

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