Benoit to be Brought Back into Pen Slowly
Joaquin Benoit has been working hard to make his long awaited return from rehab, back onto the mound for the Padres. Manager Bud Black cautioned on Thursday that he will not put Benoit right back into the fire in the closer’s role. Black has decided to keep the 37-year-old away from that role initially, and let him slowly get his legs under him and getting his rhythm back in a role with less game pressure.
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A nagging sore shoulder has kept him from being on the mound since August 26th. To his credit, Benoit has worked very hard to come back, and return to full health just in time for him to have games left to enter and finish off in what has been a very solid season in the San Diego bullpen. He has brought stability and great efficiency to that group all season long, as he has converted 9 of 10 save opportunities on the season since replacing Huston Street in the 9th inning.
Though he is in an advanced stage in his career, their is no question that he has been an absolute gem of a find for the Padres when they signed him onto the team. He has been so good, that he had the attention of contending teams giving him a look and seeing if they could somehow maneuver and get him into their bullpen for the stretch run. Thankfully for Padres’ fans, nothing materialized on that front.
The encouraging signs in his recovery from his sore shoulder were that he threw a bullpen session Sunday in Arizona, and threw without any hint of soreness which was a huge step forward in his rehabilitation process. He then showcased all the pitches in his arsenal on Wednesday, and threw with no problem in that session as well.
Those sessions can cause some grey hairs for the manger, general manager, and whole organization just for the fact that you don’t know how a pitcher and the injury they are trying to come back from will act, once they have stress put on them with the velocity of the throws.
While he may not be back to closing games just yet, just having Benoit active and back to pitching at full strength is a big positive for the team and gives him an opportunity to finish the season on his terms, not one dictated by injury.