ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were hoping that Joaquin Benoit would be available out of the bullpen for their three-game series with the Braves. That's not going to happen.
Best-case scenario now is Benoit being available for the series that starts on Friday against the Nationals. Until then, Benoit remains sidelined with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Benoit, the Rangers 2007 Pitcher of the Year, hasn't appeared in a game since June 7 against the Rays. He'll throw a light session in the bullpen on Thursday in the hopes of being ready on Friday.
"We were hoping he would come back for this series," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "But after seeing the doctor, we wanted to make sure everything is right. We don't want to do something crazy and lose him again."
Benoit was 7-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 70 appearances for the Rangers last year. But he's been bothered by stiffness and discomfort in the shoulder since Spring Training and it has affected his performance at times this season.
Most notable was an appearance on June 2 against the Indians when he walked four batters in one inning of work.
"Right now it feels fine," Benoit said. "We'll see what happens. There have been times when I'm fine, but most of the time, it has been bothering me. You can see it when I'm on the mound and I walk four guys in an inning. I'm not like Greg Maddux and can hit my spots every time. But it's not normal for any pitcher to walk four guys."
The Rangers had the option of putting Benoit on the disabled list last Saturday in New York when they called up pitcher Kason Gabbard from Triple-A Oklahoma. Instead, they designated pitcher Robinson Tejeda for assignment.
If Benoit had gone on the disabled list retroactive to June 7, he could have been activated as early as Tuesday, when the Rangers play the Astros. Instead, the Rangers have kept him active in hopes that he would soon be ready. Right now, they are down to the last three games.
"If we can get him back this weekend and he can help us win two or three games, it will be good that he didn't go on the disabled list," Connor said.
Benoit's problems reflect what Rangers relievers have gone through in June. The team has used ten relievers this month, who have combined for a 7.76 ERA, while opponents have hit .307 off them. Rangers relievers had a 2.64 ERA in May, with opponents hitting a collective .221 off them.
"We miss [Benoit] tremendously," manager Ron Washington said. "There were times out there when we felt like he was capable of doing it and he just didn't get it done. We need consistency, and he was one of the guys we were depending on for consistency. We need to get him back."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.