Kris Benson's ERA is 4.88 after a rough outing Thursday night, but manager Sam Perlozzo said he'd be thrilled to have Benson back next season.
The right-hander has the option to ask for a trade because he has more than five years experience and was traded in the middle of a multi-year contract. Benson, who will make $7.5 million in 2007, has said that he's not sure what he'll do but that he likes his situation in Baltimore.
"I would love to have him," Perlozzo said. "I don't know what his thoughts are."
The manager thought Benson was as scattershot as he'd been all season in his loss to the Minnesota Twins. But he said overall the right-hander has fulfilled the expectations the club had when it traded for Benson in the offseason.
"I don't think he's pitched the way he did earlier this season since his elbow was getting sore," Perlozzo said. "The early-on pitcher ... he was a steadying force for our staff. He was solid and you knew you were going to get six or seven [innings] from him every time out there. He was the guy you looked forward to when he went out to pitch because you knew you had a shot to get deep into the game and use your 'pen the way you wanted to. It's important to have a guy like that."
Perlozzo went on to say that the club needs another proven veteran to pair with its up-and-coming starters.
"I'd like to have an ace, so-called," he said. "A proven guy. If we're talking about winning, I think we need to have one more guy we can count on."
Of course, 20 other clubs are in the same boat. Oakland Athletics left-hander Barry Zito and San Francisco Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt are expected to be the top pitching targets in the free-agent market.
O's seeking new Triple-A home
An Orioles official said yesterday that the organization is unlikely to keep its Triple-A franchise in Ottawa and is searching for alternatives.
The Ottawa Citizen reported this week that the Ottawa Lynx have informed the city they do not plan to return after the 2007 season. The paper indicated that the Lynx are likely to move to Allentown, Pa., and become a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate.
With an average attendance of about 2,550, the Lynx rank last in the International League, and Orioles prospects have long complained about playing in the city's cold climate. The Orioles moved to Ottawa in 2002 after being dumped by longtime Triple-A home Rochester, N.Y.
Ortiz not improving
When Russ Ortiz was hit hard in his early starts, the Orioles pledged to stay with him as he sought to reclaim the groove that once made him an elite pitcher.
Two months into his Orioles career, he hasn't found it. He's 0-3 with a 10.33 ERA and has allowed 59 base runners in 27 innings. But Perlozzo keeps throwing Ortiz out in long relief.
"We kind of have no choice," he said of Thursday when Ortiz contributed to the Twins' four-run eighth. "They're your long guys, and Bruce [Chen] had pitched the day before," the manager said. "You've got to have somebody to throw out there and save your bullpen."
Perlozzo seemed at a loss to explain Ortiz's failings.
"He's just been inconsistent," he said. "Every time we think he's taking a step forward, it's a step back. It's been that way since he's been there."
Perlozzos join leukemia fight
Perlozzo and his wife, Beth, are the spokespeople for the "Light the Night Walk," the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual evening walk to raise awareness and funds to cure leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
The walks are scheduled in September and October in Annapolis, Baltimore, Frederick, Howard County, Harford County, Ocean City and Southern Maryland.
"This is a tremendous way to raise awareness and funds to fight these terrible diseases that have impacted so many lives, including ours," said Perlozzo, whose mother died of leukemia. "I encourage all citizens of Maryland to get involved and join us as we help light the night."
For more information, visit www.lightthenight.org or call 410-527-0220.
Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.