The New York Mets optioned Steve Trachsel to triple-A Norfolk on Friday, one day after the right-hander became the first pitcher in franchise history to give up four home runs in an inning.
"I was pretty shocked," Trachsel said. "I thought they'd make me skip a start or move to the bullpen. But they have precedent on their side that this had worked."
Because he has more than five seasons of major league service, Trachsel had the right to refuse the demotion, which will last for no more than four starts.
But the Mets persuaded him to accept the move by pointing to the success Bobby J. Jones had after being demoted last season. Jones was sent to Norfolk last June with a 1-3 record and a 10.19 earned-run average. He returned after two starts and went 10-3 with a 3.69 ERA over his final 19 appearances.
"This is done with the exact same idea and hope as with Bobby Jones," General Manager Steve Phillips said. "We're sending him down to get back on track, to gain command of his fastball and build some confidence."
Trachsel, who signed a $7-million, two-year contract in the off-season, is 1-6 with a 8.24 ERA.
Kris Benson, expected to be the Pittsburgh Pirates' staff ace this season, will have reconstructive elbow surgery and probably won't pitch for at least a year.
The right-handed Benson, who signed a $13.4-million, four-year contract extension days before he was hurt during a mid-March spring training start, tried resting and strengthening the elbow for two months with no progress.
"It's obvious something's wrong in there," Benson said. "I've got to get this taken care of. It's been very stressful for me, and I'm relieved now that I know what I'm going to do. This has been tough on me and tough on my family."
New York Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams returned to the team after attending his father's funeral in Puerto Rico and said he's still miles away mentally.
"I'll play. That's about all I can expect," said Williams, who arrived late Thursday in Seattle.
Bernabe Williams Sr. died Sunday in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, of a heart attack. He was 73.
Philadelphia Phillie third-base coach John Vukovich faces radiation treatments and a limited coaching role for the next six weeks as he recovers from surgery for the partial removal of a benign brain tumor.
"While the tumor has shrunk, 30 radiation treatments are recommended over the next six weeks," Vukovich said.
Vukovich plans to miss the team's next three trips so he can remain at home for treatment.
Shortstop Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.