SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Armando Benitez hopes to be the Giants closer after finishing the 2006 season on the disabled list with a knee injury.
If Benitez, who blew eight of 24 save opportunities in 2006, is not ready, the Giants could turn to rookie right-hander Brian Wilson.
And maybe if he is, the Giants may move him to the Florida Marlins, who have shown an interest -- if the Giants will eat some of his $7.6-million US salary. The former Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets closer is in the final year of a $21.5-million contract.
Benitez's knee injury was the result of torn hamstring tendons suffered in the first month of 2005, when he rushed to cover first base.
The Giants were moving through the off-season looking as if they were assembling an oldtimers team:
They re-acquired Rich Aurilia, 35, re-signed Barry Bonds, 42, landed ex-Jay Bengie Molina, 32, re-signed third baseman Pedro Feliz, 31, overpaid for oft-injured outfielder Dave Roberts, 36, and brought in Ryan Klesko, 35. The Giants had the money to spend but couldn't get either Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee to take it ... and couldn't deal for Manny Ramirez. Then their youth movement kicked in as they signed lefty Barry Zito, 28, as their ace, allowing Jason Schmidt, 34, go to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent. The annual question will be who hits in front and behind Bonds to offer protection for the man who would be home run king?
Aurilia hit 37 homers batting third for the Giants ... but that was in 2001. He hit 23 in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds. The Giants preferred Aurilia over re-signing Shea Hillenbrand.