Daal's career with Orioles in jeopardy after surgery

Timetable altered

pitcher likely to miss most of 2004

Daal's career with O's in jeopardy

April 01, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Having undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Tuesday, Omar Daal likely will miss most of the 2004 season and might not pitch again for the Orioles.

The early projections have Daal, 32, out for at least three months after Dr. James Andrews cleaned some fraying of the rotator cuff and repaired a slight labrum pull.

The Orioles will place Daal on the 60-day disabled list while he rests the shoulder before beginning a lengthy rehabilitation program at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. His loss creates an opening on the 40-man roster.

"There weren't any major repairs done," said head trainer Richie Bancells, "but he had a combination of a bunch of little things.

"[Andrews] said ... for a guy who's pitched as long as he has and at his age, it looks pretty good."

After the surgery, performed in Birmingham, Ala., Daal must try to keep his arm immobilized for the first few weeks or he'll interfere with the healing process.

"You need to be careful with that for a six- to eight-week period before you can start doing some other kinds of motions and strength exercises," Bancells said. "It could be three months until he's on some type of a mound throwing somewhere. That's minimal time before his throwing program.

"To be on a major league mound, I would say it's probably going to be more toward somewhere later in the second half of the season."

Daal signed a two-year contract on Jan. 4, 2003, and is owed $4.5 million this season. He missed more than two months last year with tendinitis in his left rotator cuff and went 4-11 with a 6.34 ERA in 93 2/3 innings.

Included in the competition for the fifth starter's job, Daal was 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in nine innings this spring, and opponents batted .361 against him. He allowed six runs (three earned) in a five-inning appearance against a group of Minnesota Twins minor league players in Fort Myers, Fla. - the game didn't count in the official statistics - and cut short a bullpen session a few days later because of pain behind the shoulder.

A magnetic resonance imaging test didn't reveal significant damage, but the Orioles recommended an exploratory procedure. Daal, who never had arm or shoulder surgery in 11 years in the majors, sought a second opinion from Andrews, who backed the team's assessment.

"You really don't know conclusively until you put the scope in there and take a look," Bancells said. "The MRI did show some of the fraying on the labrum."

Having surgery guaranteed that Daal would miss at least one month, but the repairs altered the timetable significantly.

"With arms, you just don't know until they get in there. It's so hard to tell," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "The rehab period for a pitcher is usually a little longer. You take a little more precaution with that."

Mazzilli named Sidney Ponson, Eric DuBose, Kurt Ainsworth, Matt Riley and Erik Bedard as his starters, with Rodrigo Lopez available as a swingman in the bullpen. Daal would have provided depth for the rotation, though his inclusion on the team also might have created a roster crunch.

"We'd certainly like to have him, but we don't," said Mike Flanagan, vice president of baseball operations. "We don't have any feelings of being desperate [for pitching]. We think we're pretty deep."

Said Mazzilli: "We have other guys who can be swing guys if someone goes down. That's not a concern. You can't go into a season looking for that. You can't say, `What happens in June? Who are we going to have to start?' You can't go in with that idea."

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