Benitez exit is 'non-issue,' agent says

June 14, 1996|By Buster Olney

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Armando Benitez, ordered to go to Florida by peeved club officials to improve his physical conditioning, flew to the team's minor-league facility in Sarasota to rehabilitate his ailing right elbow.

Benitez had been traveling with the Orioles and working out. However, on Tuesday, staff members told Benitez he was being sent to Florida. Benitez's initial reaction was to say he was going to walk away from the organization, according to a club source. But Benitez's agent, Mike Powers, said yesterday that Benitez followed orders. "As far as I'm concerned," Powers said, "it's a non-issue, and he's going to do what he needs to do to get ready."

Benitez initially strained his elbow in his last appearance of spring training, and he tried to pitch through the injury. However, he strained the joint pitching against the Texas Rangers on April 19, and was placed on the disabled list the next day. Benitez tried to come back, but could not get loose in a minor-league rehabilitation assignment in May.

Benitez was examined by noted surgeon James Andrews, who diagnosed Benitez as having a slight tear in his elbow ligament. Benitez is optimistic he'll be ready to pitch sometime next month; he will see Andrews again in July.

If Benitez's condition has not improved, there is a chance he will have to have reconstructive elbow surgery that would sideline him for a year. The Orioles already have lost two prospects to serious elbow injuries this year: Billy Percibal had reconstructive elbow surgery, and Brian Sackinsky is trying to rehabilitate his elbow and avoid that procedure.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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