Notes: Benson speaks about injury
Right-hander breaks silence about shoulder rehab, surgery
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Starting pitcher Kris Benson ended two weeks of silence Wednesday, when he made his first public comments since word leaked that he has a partially torn right rotator cuff.
Benson had been letting his agent, Gregg Clifton, speak for him over the last two weeks, which were characterized by speculation that the veteran would opt for season-ending surgery. Three medical opinions later, Benson and Baltimore agreed to try a month-long rehabilitation program that might save his year without an operation.
"Basically, it is what it is," he said. "It's sore in certain spots, certain angles [and] certain positions I put my arm in. It's not like I walk around and I'm hurting all around. It's just a matter of baseball activities that are a little bit of a problem. Right now, I'm just happy to be down here, glad to be with Richie [Bancells] and his training staff.
"I'll let them take a look at it over the next few weeks and see what they can do and get this problem solved."
Benson's input helped clear up one misconception. The right-hander said he's pitched with the tear in his shoulder for multiple seasons, but he also stated that the joint has never bothered him this early in the year. That's why he was originally worried about his long-term health and asked for an opinion from several different physicians.
The first opinion, from Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, said that Benson needed rehab and not an operation. The second, by Dr. David Altchek, said that the pitcher would be best served by undergoing surgery. And the third, by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, recommended four weeks of rehab with surgery held out as a contingency plan.
Benson and the Orioles agreed with the last option, which seemed to be the bridge between the other proposals.
"We got a third opinion and [Dr. Andrews] just basically said, 'Give it three or four weeks. If by that point things don't calm down and you can't see a good progress in your rehab, then we'll have to re-evaluate the situation,'" said Benson. "The team's stance is I don't need surgery, which is true at this time.
"So it's just a matter of everybody's got all the facts right. It's just putting it all together. If the rehab doesn't work, then we have to pounce on it and make sure that I don't fall into next season with the rehab."
For Benson, the bottom line is that he wants to spend another half-decade in the league and isn't sure he can do it in his current condition. He said that the rehab process has gotten to be extraordinarily strenuous and may no longer be containing the problem. And if that's the case, he'd prefer to fix it and try to come back the hard way.
The Orioles, who owe him $7.5 million this year and hold an option for 2008, want him to get back on the mound as soon as possible. Somewhere between those two poles of interest, reality will play out.
"It's not that I'm content with the fact that I'm getting paid this season," Benson said. "I want to play for another six or seven years. I want to make a lot more money in this game. I want to accomplish a lot more things in this game. I think the decision I make is going to be the right one for the future. If the Orioles consider picking up that option next year -- if I have the surgery or not -- I think they know my work ethic.
"I think they know that I want to come back and pitch at this level. The people that know me and know what I want to do in this game [know] the money is not the issue. I want to be in this game for the long haul."
The next generation: Center fielder Corey Patterson's younger brother, Eric, may be nearing his big-league debut. The younger Patterson, a second baseman in the Cubs organization, hit .263 at Double-A last year. For now, the brothers don't spend too much time talking about the game on the field.
"Not really, because he's a pretty heady player and he knows what he's doing," said the elder Patterson, who also debuted with the Cubs. "And with a lot of that stuff, the reason I don't really say anything is you've got to go through it to understand. You can talk about stuff all you want, but until you actually experience it, you don't know.
"He'll get his chance. Soon. He'll get to see what it's like."
On the air: The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network has named its television lineup for next season. Veteran broadcaster Gary Thorne will cover play-by-play duties alongside a rotating analyst crew that includes Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez and Rick Dempsey. Dempsey will also be involved in the pregame and postgame shows.
Veteran broadcaster Jim Hunter will supplement Thorne and move into a role as studio host for the pregame and postgame shows. Local sportscaster Amber Theoharis will be the Orioles sideline reporter.
Wind 'em up: Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said the Orioles would consider scheduling a couple scrimmages in the coming weeks.
"We are going to look at that today," he said. "I am going to see if I can't go in there and see if I cannot come up with enough players for a couple of teams. It's possible we may have two. If not, one."
Quotable: "As far as my contract status, I'm sure they would like to get the most out of me. They would like me to rehab for a couple months and then pitch four months of the season or whatever the fact is to get their bang out of their buck. I want them to pick up the option. At the same time, I don't want to rock the boat by any means." -- Benson summarizing the financial impact of his decision to delay surgery
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.