It's DL, perhaps surgery, for Daal

MRI: frayed rotator cuff

Riley or Bedard will fill No. 5 spot in O's rotation

March 26, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - With Omar Daal headed back to the disabled list and possibly facing arthroscopic shoulder surgery, the Orioles moved forward yesterday with plans to pick Matt Riley or Erik Bedard as their No. 5 starter.

Daal underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Wednesday, and Orioles physician Dr. Charles Silberstein detected nothing more than some slight fraying of the rotator cuff in Daal's left shoulder - "typical pitcher things," Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said.

Since Daal has felt more pain than last season, when a similar injury kept him on the disabled list for 2 1/2 months, Silberstein recommended the arthroscopic procedure to probe inside the shoulder for damage that may not have shown up on the MRI.

Daal, 32, plans to seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Birmingham, Ala.

If Andrews recommends the same procedure, Daal will have him perform it, and that would keep him out at least a month.

Once again, Beattie said he thinks the Orioles have enough starting pitching to start the season with Daal on the disabled list.

"It's not necessary for us to go outside the organization to find something," Beattie said. "We had felt all along that we had six or seven guys for those five slots [in the rotation]."

After going 4-11 with a 6.34 ERA last season, Daal was struggling again this spring with a 6.00 ERA, so the team was considering releasing him and eating his $4.5 million salary.

Three weeks ago, Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said the fifth spot was Riley's to lose, and he has pitched well in his past two outings, lowering his ERA to 3.86.

Riley, who will face the Los Angeles Dodgers today, is technically still on schedule to be the No. 5 starter.

The Orioles will open the season April 4 with Sidney Ponson, who pitched yesterday, and with a day off April 5, they plan to skip their fifth starter until April 10 at Tampa Bay.

Bedard was expected to start the season at Triple-A Ottawa, but he has been one of the most impressive pitchers in camp. On Sunday, he held the Boston Red Sox to one run on two hits over five innings, lowering his ERA to 3.09. As of yesterday, he was tentatively scheduled to start tomorrow night's game against the Florida Marlins.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said the club has considered keeping both Riley and Bedard on their Opening Night roster.

"It's possible," he said. "We throw out all those scenarios."

But team officials continued to say the top four spots in the rotation have been solidified with Ponson, Rodrigo Lopez, Eric DuBose and Kurt Ainsworth.

The order behind Ponson had yet to be determined yesterday, as Lopez, Ainsworth and DuBose were waiting to hear when their next pitching assignments will come.

For Daal, there's no telling when he will pitch again. This was the third time in three years he has undergone an MRI because of a sore shoulder, and the results have always been inconclusive.

In 2002, he rested the shoulder for 10 days with the Dodgers and finished the season strong, going 11-9, with a 3.90 ERA. Last year, after signing his two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Orioles, he had another MRI and treated the injury with rest.

He said the shoulder had been feeling fine until he had to shut down his bullpen session Tuesday after 10 pitches.

"It's very disappointing, but what can I do?" he said. "A lot of pitchers go through that [arm surgery]. This is my first time in my career I've been in this situation. So, I have to take it easy."

Starters' stats

A look at the spring training statistics for the Orioles' projected starting pitchers:

W-L ERA IP H BB K

Ponson 1-2 5.57 21 24 10 14

Lopez 1-2 6.00 12 14 7 11

DuBose 1-2 4.66 19 1/3 17 6 20

Ainsworth 0-2 2.20 16 1/3 19 4 8

Riley 1-0 3.86 11 2/3 9 9 7

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