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03/29/09 12:15 PM ET

Monday start an audition for Benson

Rotation hopeful given nod against Giants in place of Padilla

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kris Benson will start for the Rangers in place of Vicente Padilla against the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

It could be the single biggest start by a Rangers pitcher this spring.

"It's an interesting start," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "Everybody is honing their craft and showing what they can do."

spring training
cactus league
grapefruit league

Benson is trying to show he belongs in the Rangers' rotation at the start of the season. The Rangers are trying to decide who will be their fifth starter, Benson or Scott Feldman.

Feldman had the job coming into camp, but the Rangers are strongly considering the possibility of moving him into middle relief. That would open a spot for Benson, who was signed as a Minor League free agent at the start of camp. He is 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in four Cactus League games, including two starts. In 11 innings, he has allowed nine hits and walked three, striking out seven.

"We're going to keep running him out there and give him a chance to show what he can do," manager Ron Washington said.

Benson, a seven-year veteran, has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2006 because of a torn right rotator cuff. He made 30 starts for the Orioles in 2006, when he went 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA in 183 innings.

Last season, Benson made 11 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies organization and went 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA. According to the terms of his contract, he can become a free agent on May 5 if he is not added to the Rangers' 25-man roster.

Padilla will do his work in a Minor League game.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.