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Cubs unsung heroes: Alan Benes, August 27, 2002

The younger brother of a well-known Padre and Cardinal had one big game as a Cub.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel /Getty Images

Andy Benes was a solid rotation starter for 14 years in the major leagues, mostly with the Padres and Cardinals. San Diego had made him their No. 1 pick in 1988.

Five years later, Andy’s younger brother Alan Benes was selected in the first round (16th overall) by the Cardinals. In doing so they passed on Torii Hunter and Jason Varitek, among others.

Alan Benes pitched briefly for the Cardinals from 1995-97, posting a 3.5 bWAR season in ‘97, then suffered shoulder injuries that kept him out almost two years. He was 30 when the Cubs signed him as a free agent in January 2002, another “lightning in a bottle” attempt.

Benes made 28 appearances (19 starts) for Triple-A Iowa and frankly, wasn’t very good. He posted a 5.65 ERA and 1.169 WHIP with 17 home runs allowed in 113 innings. Nevertheless, the Cubs, mired in a bad August (they wound up 12-18) in the midst of what would become a 95-loss season, called him up to make a start against the Brewers at Miller Park August 27.

He responded by throwing 5⅓ shutout innings, striking out six, and the Cubs defeated the Brewers 6-2. He also threw seven innings and allowed one run against his brother’s Cardinals September 1, though Andy Benes did not pitch in that game.

After that? Uh... not so much. In five more starts that year Alan Benes posted a 6.00 ERA and 1.370 WHIP. He remained with the organization in 2003, making three early-season relief appearances, when he was traded to the Rangers May 9. The deal was officially for a PTBNL, but after Benes made four starts for Texas with an 11.40 ERA and 2.467 WHIP, the Rangers tried to send him to Triple-A. He refused to report and was sent back to the Cubs for minor-league infielder Steve O’Sullivan. Benes pitched the rest of 2003 at Triple-A Iowa and then spent three years in the Cardinals minor leagues before retiring. He’s been an instructor in the St. Louis organization since 2007.