Before he agreed to a deal Friday with the New York Mets, slugger Gary Sheffield said he was considering the Phillies, where his good friend Jimmy Rollins plays shortstop.

Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay also were in the mix, the nine-time all-star said.

All-star third baseman David Wright persuaded the 40-year-old outfielder to join the Mets.

"I had the opportunity to exchange some text messages with him yesterday, and he's excited to be here, and I think these guys are very excited to have him," Wright said yesterday.

Sheffield's uncle, Dwight Gooden, pitched for the Mets from 1984 to 1994.

"I know I have a chance to win a championship here," Sheffield said.

Benson is back. Kris Benson made his final preseason tune-up for Texas yesterday and pitched five innings in the Rangers' 5-4 exhibition loss to the Kansas City Royals in Arlington, Texas.

Benson, the No. 1 overall pick by Pittsburgh in 1996, has not pitched in a regular-season game since 2006 after undergoing surgery for a torn rotator cuff. After signing with the Phillies in February 2008, he was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts last year for Lehigh Valley, the Phillies' triple-A team, before the Phillies released him Aug. 30.

Benson allowed three runs, one earned, and struck out five yesterday. He is slated to start Friday against Detroit.

Royals. Kansas City reassigned righthanded pitchers Brandon Duckworth, a former Phillie, and Roman Colon, and lefthander Tim Hamulack to triple-A Omaha. The club also optioned outfielder Mitch Maier to Omaha.

Red Sox. Boston optioned righthander Clay Buchholz to triple-A Pawtucket and placed five players on the 15-day disabled list.

Righthander John Smoltz (right shoulder surgery), outfielder Mark Kotsay (right elbow), shortstop Julio Lugo (right knee surgery), outfielder Jonathan Van Every (right ankle sprain), and righthander Miguel Gonzalez (right elbow surgery) went on the DL retroactive to March 27.

Nationals. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he wanted negotiations for a long-term contract to end when the regular season starts. Zimmerman and Washington have been having talks throughout spring training.