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Benson likely out for season with rotator cuff tear

BALTIMORE -- Orioles pitcher Kris Benson has a torn rotator
cuff in his right shoulder and will probably miss the entire 2007
season.

Steve Trachsel Trachsel

Kris Benson Benson

Baltimore moved quickly to fill his spot in the starting
rotation, agreeing Monday with free agent right-hander
Steve Trachsel on a $3.1 million, one-year contract. There is a $4.75 club
option for 2008, with a $100,000 buyout.

There are also performance bonuses for each year that can earn
him an additional $250,000 based on innings pitched.

The 36-year-old Trachsel was 15-8 with a 4.97 ERA for the New
York Mets last season and is 134-143 with a 4.28 ERA over 14 major
league seasons. Trachsel's agreement was first reported by The
(Baltimore) Sun.

Benson had an MRI exam last week that revealed a partial tear in
his rotator cuff, the pitcher's agent, Gregg Clifton, said Monday.
The injury will require surgery, but the procedure has not yet been
scheduled.

"We'd like to get it done as soon as possible so we can start
the recovery process," Clifton said.

After coming to Baltimore in a January 2006 trade with the Mets,
Benson went 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA in 30 starts. This season he was
supposed to provide experience in a young starting rotation that
includes Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen.

"We're disappointed," Orioles executive vice president Mike
Flanagan said.

Flanagan did not concede losing Benson for the season, saying
only that he expects the right-hander to be sidelined "at least a
couple of months. We won't have him on Opening Day, that's for
sure."

Rotator cuff tears usually require between eight to 12 months of
rehabilitation for pitchers. But Clifton did not rule out the
possibility of Benson pitching in 2007.

"No one can accurately predict the duration of recovery. I'm
not a doctor," he said. "It's not what I think or what Kris
thinks. It's what the doctors think."

Benson is due $7.5 million this year, the final guaranteed
season of a $22.5 million, three-year contract. The Orioles hold a
$7.5 million option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout.

Benson was beginning to increase his offseason workouts when his
shoulder became "stiff and sore," according to Flanagan.

"Being around as long as I have, I know this isn't the first
time something like this has happened," said Flanagan, a former
pitcher.

The 32-year-old Benson missed the 2001 season after
elbow-ligament transplant surgery and made only 18 starts in 2003
because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Benson finished second on the Orioles behind Bedard in wins and
starts and was third in inning pitched (183). He had a career-high
three completes games, but lost two of them.

In 2005, his first full season with the Mets, Benson allowed
three runs or fewer in 19 starts. He was 10-8 with a 4.31 ERA, but
New York won 17 of the 28 games in which he appeared.

But the Mets traded Benson for pitchers Jorge Julio and John Maine. There was speculation that the deal was perpetuated by the
behavior of Benson's wife, Anna, who has her own Web site and
publicly discussed intimate details of their sex life.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya contended that Anna Benson was
not a factor in the trade. Anna Benson asked for a divorce in late
March last year, but rescinded the request within the week.