Benson, signed to a three-year, $22.5 million contract this past offseason after coming to the Mets from Pittsburgh in a trade deadline deal last summer, was put on the disabled list on opening day with a strained pectoral muscle.
Expected to fortify a staff led by Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, Benson instead worked on rehabilitating the injury. He made one minor league start, pitching three innings for Class A St. Lucie on Friday.
Manager Willie Randolph doesn’t expect to let Benson go more than five innings against the Phillies. But Benson said Wednesday that he was hoping to last into the sixth or seventh.
Cliff Floyd continued his hot hitting Wednesday, lifting the Mets to a 3-2 victory with a homer and two-run homer-saving catch.
The Mets’ left-fielder has hit safely in a major league season-high 20 straight games, but was more proud of his defensive effort in Wednesday’s victory after scaling the wall to bring back a deep shot by Philadelphia’s Jason Michael.
“Defense is not my forte, but I take pride in it anyway,” Floyd said. “I usually leave that stuff to (Mike) Cameron, Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter. I think that’s the first catch I’ve ever made like that.”
It prompted the Shea Stadium crowd of 21,356 to begin chanting “MVP! MVP!” for Floyd—albeit a bit early in the season.
“I hope I’m hearing it 4 1/2 months from now,” he said. “I’m in a zone.”
Cameron also returned to the Mets during Wednesday’s game after missing the first month of the season with a wrist injury. He could also be activated by Thursday.
The Phillies made things interesting in the ninth Wednesday, hitting back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu went deep off Mets closer Braden Looper, but the last-place Phillies dropped to 5-10 in their last 15 games.
Philadelphia hasn’t won consecutive games since April 17-18. The Phillies have scored two runs or fewer in 11 of their last 21.
Vicente Padilla will face the Mets on Thursday, hoping for a better effort than the last time he pitched against them.
Padilla was making his first start of the season on April 19 after missing the first two weeks while recovering from right triceps tendinitis. The rust showed as he was gone after three innings, allowing eight runs and eight hits in a 16-4 loss.
Before that start, Padilla was 9-1 with a 2.24 ERA in 19 career games, including 10 starts, against New York.