Friday, June 1, 2007
Marlins to change closer Benitez to set-up man
MILWAUKEE -- Armando Benitez returned to the Florida Marlins
on Friday, and the veteran right-hander said he had no problem
moving from his customary closer job to a setup role.
Benitez was the closer for the San Francisco Giants until they
sent him to the Marlins Thursday night for reliever Randy
"They are bringing me here knowing we have a chance to win,"
Benitez said before the Marlins played the Milwaukee Brewers Friday
"They believe in what I can do," said Benitez, who set a
Marlins record with a career-high 47 saves in 2004, his only year
in Florida. "Whatever they want to do is fine with me."
Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said Kevin Gregg would continue
to be the closer, with Benitez typically pitching the eighth. If
Gregg is unavailable, Benitez will close.
"Look at the teams who are winning. It shortens the game,"
Gonzalez said of having two quality relievers. "I'm all for having
those guys at the end of the game."
Benitez was 0-3 with nine saves in 11 chances and a 4.67 ERA for
the Giants. He recently upset some of his San Francisco teammates
by blaming Giants hitters for not scoring enough runs, and had been
getting booed at home, as he was last season.
In his final game with the Giants on Tuesday night, Benitez
balked twice in the 12th inning of a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets.
On his last pitch, he gave up a game-ending home run to Carlos
After the trade was announced Thursday night, Benitez was not in
the clubhouse and his locker was cleaned out.
"I understand the fans," he said. "The fans want to see the
best closer. Sometimes you don't have your best stuff.
"The fans want to see the team win it," he said. "Hey,
they're disappointed. If they boo me when I'm doing good, it kept
me working hard. I was trying to do my best. That's more
Benitez is owed $5,066,666 from the remainder of his $7.6
million salary this year, of which Florida will pay $333,333 and
San Francisco will pay $4,733,333.
Benitez has 289 saves in a major league career that began in
1994. Gonzalez said the trade allows the Marlins' young pitchers to
learn from Benitez, and lets them get experience without the
pressure of pitching in late innings.
"We've thrown them in the fire as young pitchers and they've
done a nice job," Gonzalez said of his young relievers. "Now,
they can sit in the bullpen and talk to Armando and gain some
experience through those conversations. It's good for them to sit
back, watch, pay attention, learn and gain some experience."