Notes: Players already miss Benson

Notes: Players already miss Benson

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Kris Benson may be hundreds of miles away, but he was still the main topic of conversation on Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Several of Benson's Baltimore teammates shared their reaction to the right-hander's partially torn rotator cuff, which could keep him out of action for the entire season.

"It's disappointing that he's hurt," said staff ace Erik Bedard. "But when you're hurt, you've got to get it fixed and get back as soon as possible. He was a great teammate and a good friend, so it's kind of sad to not see him here."

Benson has already sought two medical opinions -- both of which confirmed the tear -- and will seek a third before deciding whether to have corrective surgery. The veteran hasn't returned phone calls to many of the media outlets that have tried to reach him, but he has been in constant contact with most of his teammates.

"I didn't ask him about anything," Bedard said. "I just said, 'Hopefully, you get better quick. Get here as fast as you can.' You're always down when you have to have shoulder surgery. That takes, what, five or six months without throwing? Five or six months is already the middle of the season."

"I actually met with him in Baltimore when he came up for his MRI. We had a late dinner and talked about it," said starter Adam Loewen. "He said it was bothering him for a while this offseason, so he was just getting it checked out. It's one of those things where if he wants to have a long career, he has to go ahead and have this taken care of. It's a big loss for our staff. He was the guy that all the young guys went to for his advice.

"He's kind of a big brother to us -- or to me, anyway. It's going to be a huge loss."

Loewen went on to say that Benson may not be around, but his past counsel may still make a difference.

"He was kind of one of the veteran guys that helped us out a little bit with consistency," he said, speaking of Baltimore's youth-laden rotation. "But I think having a year more under our belts -- like me, [Daniel] Cabrera, [Hayden] Penn and Bedard -- we might be able to fill the void. Hopefully, things go well this year and we stay healthy."

"I was surprised, in a way," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "I knew Kris had a little trouble occasionally last year, but nothing that serious. We're still kind of hoping that things work out a little better than expected. We'll just have to wait and see until we get a little more information."

Veteran Jaret Wright, who will also be part of the rotation, has been through two shoulder surgeries in his career. Wright underwent a different kind of operation, but he said the mental strain is more or less the same.

"Physically, you have a plan. Mentally, it's the hardest thing to do," Wright said of the surgery and resulting rehabilitation. "Mentally, sitting on the couch and watching your team play is way too hard."

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Headed for a hearing: Bedard, Baltimore's last remaining arbitration case, seems certain that his situation will go all the way down to the wire. The southpaw's hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, and the two sides will try to find a middle ground. Baltimore proposed a $2.7 million salary for Bedard, while the pitcher asked for $4 million.

Bedard, the odds-on favorite to start Opening Day, said he doesn't relish the idea of listening to his team try to devalue his accomplishments. On the other side, the team's executives said they hope he won't bear any ill will. Jim Duquette, Baltimore's vice president of baseball operations, said the O's have considered Bedard's state of mind.

"I think you always have a level of concern when you go to arbitration," Duquette said. "You see that happen with some guys. We don't expect that will happen, if we end up going to arbitration with him. But you never know. I think it did affect Rodrigo [Lopez] last year. We all thought it affected Rodrigo early in the season.

"It's hard to really know, but the arbitration process is the way it is to strike a deal. We just can't find that common ground. We'll keep working at it. Hopefully, we'll work it out."

When Bedard was asked if the hearing would present a distraction to his spring preparation, he issued a telling quip.

"It's only five days," he said. "What's five days? We do nothing for five days."

Coaching changes: Baltimore icon Rick Dempsey, who spent 16 seasons with the Orioles as a catcher and coach, is moving on to another assignment. The Orioles announced Wednesday that Dave Trembley will take Dempsey's position as bullpen coach. Dempsey, in turn, is moving on to a TV assignment with MASN.

Trembley has managed for 19 seasons in the Minor Leagues, and four of them were in Baltimore's organization. Last year, he was promoted to the Major League field coordinator position.

"Rick's been an Oriole for a long time. He's really not going anywhere. He's still going to be here," Perlozzo said. "Dave's worked really hard in Triple-A. He's very conscientious and very organized. He brings that little kid excitement back that you think, once in a while, you may have lost. He gives you a little boost.

"He's going to be a pleasure to have around."

Quotable: "Honestly, I wouldn't call back either. You know that. I wouldn't give you my number." -- Bedard, sarcastically responding to a reporter who said Benson hadn't called him back

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.