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March 31, 2009

Steppingstone

That's what Kris Benson is to the Rangers and what the Rangers are to Kris Benson.

He scratches the Rangers' back by buying them some time as a one-year starter, they reciprocate by satisfying his itch to prove that he can still do this job.

"It’s a win-win situation, really," said Benson, whose workmanlike six innings against the Giants on Monday convinced manager Ron Washington, if no one else. "If I do make the roster, they’re not having to pay that much in starter terms. For me, it gets me back on the map again because if I can pitch here all season long, it means I’m having a pretty good season.

"I love all the things I see here. The competition on the staff, the bullpen. Defensively I’m sure we’re going to get better. The offense is great."

Benson, of course, is not a long-term answer for the Rangers but he fills a need right now while Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz get some more necessary minor league innings.

The critical decision for the Rangers really isn't whether or not he's a fit for the rotation. It's who they bump from the 40-man roster to get Benson, Elvis Andrus, Eddie Guardado, Omar Vizquel and possibly Jason Jennings on. The Rangers can ill-afford a repeat of the Armando Gallaraga mistake from last spring.

-- Jim Reeves

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