Daal proceeds, has shoulder surgery

Orioles notebook

After second opinion, lefty agrees

he'll miss at least a month

Gibbons is back


March 31, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - On the same day that the Orioles finalized plans for their starting rotation, pitcher Omar Daal underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and is expected to miss at least one month of the season.

Dr. James Andrews did the exploratory procedure yesterday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala., to determine the cause of pain behind Daal's shoulder. The Orioles were waiting for the results last night.

Daal was attempting to be the fifth starter, but he allowed six earned runs in nine innings. He was shelled in his last appearance, a minor league game that didn't count in the official statistics, and cut short a bullpen session a few days later.

Daal sought a second opinion after the Orioles recommended the surgery. A magnetic resonance imaging test didn't reveal any structural damage.

The Orioles owe Daal $4.5 million in the last year of his contract. He signed as a free agent on Jan. 4, 2003, but health issues have reduced his contribution.

Daal began and ended last season in the rotation, but he missed more than two months with tendinitis in his left rotator cuff and went 4-11 with a 6.34 ERA in 93 2/3 innings.

Gibbons returns

Jay Gibbons returned to the lineup yesterday, one day after an MRI showed no structural damage in his right knee, and drove in a run in the first inning.

Gibbons suffered a deep bruise Saturday night and is receiving treatment. He said the discomfort is mostly evident when he runs up stairs, and he can hear a clicking sound.

"It was just a little precautionary thing," he said of the exam, which came after he played four innings Sunday. Gibbons didn't make the trip to Fort Myers the next day.

"I thought it would be a good idea to get it looked at. I think I have some old injury in there, but it's nothing to worry about. I can play 160 games on it right now."

Reminded that the season lasts 162 games, Gibbons said, "I need two days off."

Gibbons said the knee began bothering him after he chased a fly ball into foul territory. He came to an abrupt stop after crossing the line, but didn't run into anything.

"I realized the wall was about a foot away. I tried to pull up, and that's when it caught a little bit," he said. "Or maybe I fell out of bed. I don't know. I just remember it hurting after that."

Since the exhibition games began on March 4, Gibbons has been hit twice in his surgically repaired right hand and undergone the MRI on his knee.

"I'm just trying to get up to Baltimore in one piece," he said.

Blasts from past invited

The Orioles have invited Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken and Earl Weaver to take part in their pre-game ceremonies at Sunday night's season opener against the Boston Red Sox. Commissioner Bud Selig also is expected to be at Camden Yards, team sources said.

Even though the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays officially opened the season yesterday in Japan, Major League Baseball traditionally treats the first Sunday night game as the grand opening. Other teams will begin their seasons on Monday.

Mazzilli to Cust: Relax

The Orioles have been trying to tap into Jack Cust's potential for a year now, wondering if his patient approach at the plate helps him or hurts him. Manager Lee Mazzilli said Cust reminds him of former Yankees first baseman Nick Johnson.

"I had Nick Johnson for three years [in the minor leagues] and he took pitches to a fault at times," Mazzilli said. "He went and hit .350 and turned out to be a pretty good hitter in the big leagues. You can't change someone's whole style. He's just being patient."

After going 1-for-2 with a run-scoring double yesterday, Cust is 8-for-49 (.163) with 19 strikeouts this spring.

"I think he's just been pressing," Mazzilli said. "I think he wants to do so much so quick. I told him, `Just relax, have fun, trust your hands out there.' The kid has a good on-base percentage everywhere he plays, and all of a sudden it just disappears. What that tells me is you're getting away from your game."

Baseball sections

The Sun will publish two special sections in the coming days: Friday: Baseball '04 will include a preview of the Orioles and a look at the majors' other teams. Sunday: Opening Night will include a preview of the Orioles-Red Sox opener at Camden Yards.

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