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Benson agrees to Minor League deal

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02/13/2008 3:20 PM ETBy Ken Mandel / MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, the Phillies added veteran free agent Kris Benson to their inventory of arms.

The right-hander, the No. 1 overall pick in the June 1996 First-Year Player Draft, agreed on Wednesday to a Minor League deal, pending a physical.

The Phillies dispatched Chuck LaMar, the team's director of professional scouting, to watch Benson throw twice near his Atlanta home. LaMar reported that Benson was at "60-70 percent" of his velocity and might not be ready for Opening Day.

Benson underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder 10 1/2 months ago, and the typical recovery time is 12 to 14 months. Benson hopes to be ready for Opening Day, though it is more realistic that he would start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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