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Ex-Met Benson isn't sour on Big Apple


NEW YORK -- Orioles starter Kris Benson did not leave the New York Mets on his own terms last winter, but he said he carries no hard feelings into his first start against his former team.

Benson was set to oppose Mets ace Pedro Martinez yesterday.

"It's just going to be a regular game against a good team," he said Friday.

Benson had a solid 2005 season for the Mets, going 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA. But the Mets traded him in the offseason amid speculation that they were tired of the antics of his wife, Anna.

The Orioles acquired him for disappointing reliever Jorge Julio and starter John Maine. The Mets have traded Julio, and the Orioles are pleased with Benson's 7-5 record and 4.63 ERA.

Benson said he wouldn't be trying to show his former bosses that they made a mistake in dealing him.

"There's nothing that I need to prove," Benson said. "If anything, I'll just try to go out there and pitch well against a pretty good team. They've got a good lineup, and I just look at it in that sense. I've been in the league too long to have to prove anything."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said he has no fear that Benson will be preoccupied with his return.

"I think Kris will go about his business as usual," he said. "I think the other part will come from the fans or the media or whatever."

Clark in, Halama out

When you've played professionally for 15 years and had only three big league stints, the next call-up can never be taken for granted.

So utility man Howie Clark, 32, was thrilled when the Orioles purchased his contract from Triple-A Ottawa on Friday.

"When I got the call, I was super excited," he said. "This is the reason we're all playing, and anyone who's ever played in big leagues, this is where you want to get back to."

Clark has hit .277 in 238 major league at-bats for the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. He was hitting .276 with two homers and 12 RBIs for Ottawa. He replaces reliever John Halama on the club's roster. Halama was designated for assignment, but would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.

Teammates seemed thrilled when they saw Clark in the clubhouse. "Howie, Howie, Howie," third baseman Melvin Mora said before giving Clark a warm hug.

Halama had a 6.14 ERA in 29 1/3 innings this year. childs.walker@baltsun.com

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