A standout in the bullpen when he was active, Joaquin Benoit is hoping to leave a positive, lasting impression on the Padres organization in the last few weeks of the season. Though San Diego is not in the running for a playoff berth, for Benoit having that feeling and knowledge of being 100% healthy again, and being able to just focus on pitching would be something that money cannot buy.
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The positive signs are showing for the 37-year-old closer. As he is continuing to progress through the throwing program that the Padres have setup for him to go through, he has not suffered any setbacks. The next and most important step is for him to go on a mound and throw a bullpen session on Sunday. This session will test his ability to not only throw his variety of pitches, but also if he can throw them for strikes and at the velocity he and the team are used to seeing. If Benoit is able to come out of that session looking good, a return back to the active roster could be looming.
Having Benoit back in the bullpen would have everyone back in there roles as they were set when he was the regular, everyday closer. He would add stability, and another weapon to what has been a very solid and effective bullpen unit all season long. Manager Bud Black could go back to having Benoit penned in as the closer, and work his bullpen from there, slotting the rest of the relief pitchers as he sees fit, not having to put anyone in a compromised role that they might not be comfortable or as effective in.
Furthermore, it would give Benoit great confidence that not only can he get back on the mound at full strength, but to also finish off a season where he has been a big key to why San Diego has had one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. Confidence works in different ways for each individual player, but for the veteran, he understands how precious it is that he get back on track, and into a groove pitching-wise to go into the off season feeling good about where he is at in his career, and his overall effectiveness with his pitches.