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Long Island Ducks: Armando Benitez

Central Islip Thursday May 24, 2012. Former MLB

Central Islip Thursday May 24, 2012. Former MLB pitcher, Armando Benitez, signs a minor league contract today with the Long Island Ducks at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. (May 24, 2012) Credit: Newsday Jessica Rotkiewicz

After a lengthy and colorful career, righthanded reliever Armando Benitez, 39, is back in New York in what might be the final chapter of his professional career. Benitez spent more than four seasons with the Mets, for whom he saved 160 games, second only to franchise leader John Franco. He totaled 289 saves and made two All-Star teams during a 15-year big-league career that included a brief stay with the Yankees in 2003. He last pitched in the majors in 2008 with the Blue Jays. Benitez has an 8.10 ERA in 17 games with the Ducks but has strung together three consecutive scoreless appearances.

How do you feel you have been progressing since signing with the Ducks?

"My doctor told me that if I keep my weight down, I could pitch a couple more years. And that's what I am going to try and do."

What do you feel your legacy with the Mets is?

"They gave me an opportunity and I tried to do the best job I could. I tried to not disappoint the guys that trusted me. That's what I did with the Mets."

When you came up with the Orioles, their main rival was the Yankees. What do you remember about being a young pitcher thrust into that rivalry?"I'm the kind of person that feels the past is the past. When it's over, it's over. Other people remember the bad stuff."

In Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, you threw the pitch to Derek Jeter that wound up being interfered with by Jeffrey Maier and ruled a home run. Did you immediately know that umpire Rich Garcia had made a mistake?

"The umpire called the play, and there was nothing I could do. Whatever he said, I had to take it. Everybody saw it wasn't a home run. Tony Tarasco had a chance at the ball."

When you saw Tarasco's animated reaction, is that when you knew the call had been blown?

"What you do think?"

You were standing 300 feet away, without the benefit of TV cameras and instant replay."It did not feel right. It was not a real happy moment. A lot of time has passed, and that was the umpire's call. You just have to say, 'OK, that's it. It's over.' "

What has it been like to be reunited with your former Mets teammate, Timo Perez?"It feels good. We've been talking about the good times and bad times. We sit down and talk about old memories and what we have gone through."

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