Benson sent to O's doctor

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Right-hander complains of soreness in arm after Tuesday's appearance

July 27, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Orioles sent Kris Benson back to Baltimore yesterday to have his right elbow examined after the starting pitcher complained of soreness in his pitching arm after his start on Tuesday night.

Benson is scheduled to see team doctor Andy Cosgarea today, leaving his status to make his next start, Sunday at Camden Yards against the Chicago White Sox, in doubt.

"He's been managing [the elbow] for a couple of months," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We got him in Baltimore as a precautionary measure, just to make sure it's nothing more than a little inflammation. We just want to clear his head."

Perlozzo said that Benson notified the team that he felt some soreness in his pitching elbow earlier this year, but said it was nothing serious and it has happened in previous seasons.

Benson couldn't hold a four-run lead in the Orioles' 7-5 loss here to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday. He gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits, including two home runs to Mark Teahen, through six innings. After the game, he blamed his problems on poor control and did not mention any pain in his elbow. Benson hasn't won since June 28, a span of five starts.

"He says he has [the soreness] every year," Perlozzo said. "We thought we'd err on the side of caution and get it checked out. It's one of those situations where it doesn't bother him until he pitches deep into the game. Lately, it's been creeping up a little earlier than that. We feel like it's minor tendinitis and it has to be allowed to calm down."

Perlozzo said it's too early to tell whether Benson, who is 9-9 with a 4.71 ERA, will start Sunday. The team still hasn't decided on a starter for Saturday's game against Chicago, with Bruce Chen being the likely choice to fill what was Russ Ortiz's spot in the rotation before he was moved to the bullpen. Perlozzo said that the club will likely call someone up from the minors to pitch if Benson is unable to go.

The Orioles manager said Daniel Cabrera and Hayden Penn, both at Triple-A Ottawa, are unlikely to get the call because the organization would like to see them each get at least one more start in the minors. At this point, one of the most likely options appears to be 23-year-old right-hander James Johnson, who is 9-5 with a 4.13 ERA for Double-A Bowie.

Big start for Lopez

Though team officials are not discussing it, it's possible that Benson's status could have an impact on the team's decision to trade Rodrigo Lopez. Several industry sources have labeled today's start by Lopez a big one in determining his future with the Orioles.

In what is a thin pitching trade market, Lopez, who is 6-11 with a 6.73 ERA, has been scouted by several teams and likely will be again tonight in his last start before the trade deadline.

He has just one win in his past five starts and his recent struggles have prompted a couple of teams that were interested in Lopez to cool on the 30-year-old right hander. Still, according to one Orioles source, around "five or six" teams still maintain interest in Lopez.

"I would like to say something, to tell you how I feel, but I just care about winning," Lopez said when asked if the trade rumors are affecting him. "I have a feeling that I am going to end the season with the Orioles. Nobody has told me anything. That's just a feeling that I have inside."

Tejada ignoring talk

With a smile on his face, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada said that every time he turns on the television, he learns of another trade rumor involving his leaving Baltimore. The rumors bothered him earlier this season, but he is learning to block them out.

"It's out there," Tejada said. "I just watch my name all the time. I mean, what can I do? There's nothing I can do. They put it out there. I just sit here. I play for the Orioles. I don't think I'll go anywhere. I just work here. If they send me somewhere, there is nothing I can do." Tejada added: "It feels good that there's a lot of people out there that want me."

Before going 0-for-4 last night, Tejada was 13-for-17 on this road trip with four runs, three RBIs and three doubles, raising his average 19 points in the process. Over his past 10 games, he is hitting .487 (19-for-39). He credits his recent surge to taking extra batting practice with hitting coach Terry Crowley.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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