Benoit dealing with sore shoulder, but OK to pitch

Benoit dealing with sore shoulder, but OK to pitch

DETROIT -- Normally, an eighth-inning lead belongs to Joaquin Benoit when he's available, so manager Jim Leyland raised eyebrows Tuesday when he went to Octavio Dotel to handle the eighth inning and carry the lead to closer Jose Valverde in a 6-5 win over the Yankees. Leyland explained after the game that Benoit had some soreness around his right shoulder.

"He's been a little sore, but he's OK. No red flags," Leyland said.

Benoit echoed that on Wednesday, saying he's fine and ready to pitch after a couple days off.

It's similar, Leyland said, to a minor issue Benoit had last year. Leyland said he gave him two days off at the time and he felt fine afterward. Tuesday marked his second consecutive day off. He could have pitched Tuesday if needed, Leyland said, but he wanted to avoid it if he could.

Benoit entered Wednesday tied for 10th among American League pitchers with 50 appearances this season, three off the lead shared by Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves and Yankees lefty Boone Logan. Benoit is on pace for 74 appearances, four over his career high set five years ago with Texas before his shoulder problems.