Benson likely out for season with rotator cuff tear

Updated: February 14, 2007, 7:10 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Steve Trachsel
Kris 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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press