Daal is hit by shoulder pain, may be going to DL

O's pitcher `couldn't even throw' ball after 10 pitches


March 24, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Orioles pitcher Omar Daal missed 2 1/2 months with a left shoulder injury last season, and yesterday, he felt a pain in the same shoulder that was even worse.

Daal, 32, was working off a bullpen mound, but after about 10 pitches, he said: "I couldn't even throw the ball."

He will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam this afternoon to determine the extent of the injury and whether he needs surgery. Last year, he was diagnosed with tendinitis in the left rotator cuff and treated the injury with rest.

"I'm really worried," Daal said. "I don't know what the doctor's going to say. Last year, it was fine. I rested it for three months, and I rested it for three months again after the season. Today, I couldn't even finish my bullpen."

The Orioles were preparing for the likely possibility of starting the season with Daal on the disabled list. It was yet another disappointing blow for the pitcher who signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract in January 2003.

According to Orioles officials, Daal's contract, which pays him $4.5 million this season, is not insured, meaning the team cannot collect a premium for services he can't render and apply that money toward another player.

Before signing with the Orioles, Daal hadn't been on the DL since 1998.

Daal, who went 4-11 with a 6.34 ERA last season, was competing for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation this spring along with rookie left-handers Matt Riley and Erik Bedard.

Both of those young pitchers have been impressive of late, but with either one of them, the Orioles' starting staff would be full of inexperience.

Behind projected Opening Night starter Sidney Ponson, the rotation would include third-year starter Rodrigo Lopez and three others who have never pitched a full season in the big leagues - Eric DuBose, Kurt Ainsworth and either Riley or Bedard.

But Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said Daal's injury won't hasten the team's efforts to trade for another starter.

"Right now, we feel pretty good that we're going to be able to replace him internally," Beattie said.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli concurred.

"I think we have enough to cover that," Mazzilli said. "I think we'll be all right there. ... What can you do about it? He'll be back, and I think we have the depth to cover that, I really do."

Mazzilli said he plans to keep Ponson on his regular four days' rest throughout April, even though the team is off the first three Mondays of the month. That means the fifth starter would likely get skipped multiple times anyway.

Daal is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA this spring in three Grapefruit League games spanning nine innings. His last appearance came in a minor-league game against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, and he allowed six runs (three earned) and three walks in five innings. He also gave up two home runs in the first inning.

"After I pitched Saturday, I was feeling OK," he said. "But in the bullpen [yesterday], I only threw 10 pitches, and I felt it in the same spot as last year."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.