Notes: Benson opts for surgery
His season over, right-hander looking to be ready next spring
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Kris Benson's attempt at rehabbing his injured right shoulder is finished. And so is his season. Benson cut short a month-long strengthening program a week ahead of schedule Wednesday and has apparently decided to have a season-ending surgical procedure on his partially torn rotator cuff.
Benson has left the Orioles' Spring Training complex and was unavailable for comment, but Mike Flanagan, Baltimore's executive vice president of baseball operations, spoke about the situation early Thursday morning.
"He was doing well, and I guess four or five days ago, had a setback with it. He stopped the rehab at that time, and conversations were ongoing with the doctors," Flanagan said. "At this point, we're probably looking at surgery. It hasn't been determined with who or when, but he just reached a point with the rehab where he was getting sore and seemed to take a big step backwards."
Benson spoke about that pain last week, saying that he had been unable to work out for two straight days because of recurring soreness. He also said that the pain materialized out of nowhere, which amped up his level of concern. Benson has pitched with the injury for multiple seasons, but he's rarely felt the pain before this year started.
That's why Benson saw three doctors before he reported to Fort Lauderdale Stadium last month with the rest of his teammates. He was concerned about his shoulder and uncertain whether it would hold up to the rigors of the season. Two of the three doctors prescribed surgery, but two of the three suggested attempting a strenuous rehab program.
Now that that's done, Benson wants to have the surgery at a point in the year that will allow him to be ready for next Spring Training. He's signed for this year at $7.5 million and wants to play into the next decade.
"I want to play for another six or seven years. I want to make a lot more money in this game," Benson said earlier this spring. "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. ... 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."
Baltimore prepared its rotation for Benson's potential absence by signing veteran Steve Trachsel. Prospect Hayden Penn waits in the wings as the top contingency plan in case of another injury or ineffectiveness among the starting staff. Flanagan had hoped for the best with Benson, but he knew that it was a delicate situation.
"I think you're always disappointed. But we had sort of planned to go along not counting on him," he said. "We had made some other plans, and if Kris was able to come back, it certainly would've given us additional pitching depth, which would've been welcomed. But we've sort of prepared for Plan B."
Gut check: Jeremy Guthrie has been perfect so far in Spring Training, spinning eight shutout innings in relief of various starters. The former first-round pick was claimed off waivers by the Orioles, which means that he has to make the big-league team or be exposed to waivers again at the end of the exhibition season.
"They told me the best opportunity when I first arrived here was the bullpen," said Guthrie, who has a 6.08 career ERA in 16 big-league games. "There really hasn't been too much communication about my situation here since then. Obviously, they encouraged me to try and have a good camp and to pitch as well as I can."
Guthrie has done exactly that, striking out as many batters (five) as he's put on base via hit (two), walk (one) or hit batsmen (two). The former Stanford ace has been a starter for almost his entire Minor League career, and he's posted a 21-15 record at Triple-A over the past two years. In the big leagues, he just can't seem to get his break.
"Everything's different," he said. "There's no routine that I've found, as a reliever, especially with the role that I had. My role was to pitch in blowouts, and you can never predict those. You can pitch one day and have 10 days off, which happened to me a few times. That's the biggest difference -- your routine for throwing, lifting and running."
Guthrie said that he'd like to stay with Baltimore, although he knows he may not have that choice. And he also said that he won't take a demotion the wrong way, if it comes to that. Guthrie, who took two years off before college to go on a Mormon mission, has a relentlessly positive outlook that regulates his baseball dreams.
"The most important thing for a pitcher is that he feels good about what he's doing," he said. "Hopefully, he can feel good whether it's Double-A, Triple-A or the Major Leagues, because if you're feeling good, you're pitching good and the opportunities will come."
Quotable: "You can't look at it that way. A disaster for me would've been to not come in here and give it everything that I had. You can't control the rest. My main goal, always, is to pitch as well as I can." -- Guthrie, on his mind-set toward a possible demotion at the end of Spring Training
Coming up: The Orioles will head home to Fort Lauderdale for a game against the Twins on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Trachsel will get the start, beginning the fourth turn around the rotation. Trachsel has thrown seven innings thus far and has been touched up for 13 hits and six earned runs.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.