- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Benjamin signs for bigger money in Mexico; Garcia on disabled list 4-6 weeks
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
Still searching for offensive consistency while being last in the Atlantic League in home runs with just six through Wednesday, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs lost two of their biggest bats for quite some time this week.
Tuesday, Casey Benjamin signed with the Reynosa Broncos of the Mexican League, the only Triple-A level circuit sanctioned through Minor League Baseball outside the United States though its teams are not affiliated with any major league franchises.
Benjamin was the Blue Crabs’ offensive catalyst through the first 11 games of the season, his final contest with the club coming in Monday’s 13-inning marathon that ended in a 6-5 loss to Bridgeport.
He was tied with a league-leading three homers at the time of his departure from the Blue Crabs, the second most in the circuit entering Thursday. His .304 average and 10 RBIs were also team highs as of his final game with the Blue Crabs.
The Atlantic League website has reported that Benjamin was placed on the suspended list. During this era of baseball, that leads people to naturally think he failed a drug test.
But that is not the case, according to Osborn.
“Casey would never fail a drug test,” Osborn emphatically said. “This is people starting rumors and I don’t like that. He’s on the suspended list because when players go to Mexico and the [Mexican] team hasn’t paid the buyout yet [to the Atlantic League], he’s suspended, meaning he can’t come back here. Once the buyout is paid, he’ll be on the inactive list [and not suspended].”
Osborn added Wednesday, “[Benjamin] is off to a great start [in Mexico]. He hit a home run there last night. Those teams are looking at this league, that’s how they get their players. If you get hot here early, you have a chance to go down there and make some money.”
Slugger Travis Garcia, who left the Blue Crabs last summer to play for the bigger money in Mexico before returning to the team for the playoff stretch run, said Monday that he will be on the disabled list for four to six weeks due to a bone spur in the elbow of his right throwing arm, an issue that has plagued him for quite some time. Blue Crabs manager Patrick Osborn said Garcia’s injury appears to require surgery.
The Blue Crabs starting third baseman, capable of leading the league in homers and a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate, is yet to get on track this season. He dealt with a minor quad injury in his leg before getting sidelined with the bone spur and is batting just .222 with a double and three RBIs in just 18 at-bats, without a homer.
Garcia was upbeat in the clubhouse Monday despite his out-of-commission status, as he’s enjoying his new role as the team’s first-base coach while being on the mend from an injury that he has played through for over a year.
“It’s definitely a big loss,” Osborn said about Garcia’s impact. “Travis has been one of the better players in this league for a couple years now. But I’m not too worried about it because the guy I’m bringing in is pretty good himself.”
This week the Blue Crabs are slated to sign power hitter Eddy Martinez-Esteve, a second-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2004. Most recently, he’s played in the Seattle Mariners’ affiliated minors.
“He’s a similar-type hitter as Travis is,” Osborn said of Martinez-Esteve. “I expect him to do very well in this league.”