"At this point, we're probably looking at surgery," Orioles
executive vice president Mike Flanagan said Thursday morning. "It
hasn't been determined yet with who or when, but it just reached a
point with the rehab that it was getting sore and [he] seemed to
take a big step backwards."
Benson had been working out at the Orioles' spring training camp,
hoping to strengthen his torn rotator cuff through an intense
four-week rehabilitation program. Had that process been
successful, Benson might have been able to pitch sometime in 2007.
But Benson, who started the rehab program on the advice of two
doctors in hopes of avoiding surgery, left the team Wednesday to
return to his home in Atlanta.
The first 10 days of the rehabilitation process were promising,
as Benson concentrated on strengthening muscles around the tear.
But last week, during daily two-hour sessions with trainer Richie
Bancells, Benson began to experience increased pain, and the
discomfort did not diminish.
"I don't know if it's just a little bump that I'm going through
or what, but the last couple days have been pretty sore. Whenever
it gets flared up like it is, it's tough to get that range of
motion," Benson said at the time.
That setback turned out to be more than Benson could overcome.
"He went through the rehab, he was making progress, things were
going well and at one point, he just had this setback," Flanagan
Benson, who was acquired from the New York Mets in a January
2006 trade for pitchers Jorge Julio and John Maine , was 11-12 with
a 4.82 ERA in 30 starts for the Orioles last year, his first in the
American League after seven National League seasons with the Mets
He was in the final season of a three-year, $22.5 million deal,
and Baltimore holds a $7.5 million option for 2008 with a $500,000
With Benson's status in doubt, the Orioles signed free agent
right-hander Steve Trachsel to a one-year, $3.1 million deal in
February. Trachsel is expected to take Benson's spot in the
"You're always disappointed, but we had planned to go along not
planning to have Kris for at least half the season, maybe longer,"
Flanagan said. "So we had made some other plans and had Kris been
able to come back, it would have given us additional pitching
depth, which we would have welcomed. We've been sort of prepared,
I'd say, for Plan B."
Benson is a career 68-73 pitcher with a 4.34 ERA, but he has had
five trips to the disabled list with various arm, elbow and
shoulder problems. He had reconstructive surgery on his right elbow
in May 2002 and was on the D.L. from July 26 through Aug. 12 last
year with right elbow tendinitis.