- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

The Baltimore Orioles will sign free agent pitcher Omar Daal to a multi-year contract today, according to a league source.

The club first showed some interest in Daal during last month's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and negotiations intensified quickly this week. Daal was expected to arrive from his native Venezuela yesterday and be introduced at a news conference at Camden Yards this afternoon, the source said.

Since they assumed their front-office positions Dec.4, executive vice president Jim Beattie and vice president Mike Flanagan had worked almost exclusively on acquiring a power hitter. More recently, however, after attempts to land outfielders Hideki Matsui and Cliff Floyd were unsuccessful, they began scouring the free-agent list to add depth to their starting rotation.

The signing of 10-year veteran Daal, pending results of a physical exam, does that. The left-hander would most likely fit in as the Orioles' No.3 or No.4 starter behind Pat Hentgen and Rodrigo Lopez and possibly Scott Erickson, depending on how he recovers from a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Daal went 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 23 starts and 161 innings last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Daal features a twisting, deceptive windup that helps mask his offspeed pitches. He also is an above-average fielder.

Daal, 30, also can come out of the bullpen and made 16 appearances in relief last season. But he has been mostly a starter for the last five seasons with Arizona, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Daal has endured peaks and valleys in his career. After spending his first five seasons in the majors as a reliever after breaking in with the Dodgers in 1993, he went 8-12 with a 2.88 ERA with Arizona in 1998. He followed that by going 16-9 with a 3.65 ERA with the Diamondbacks the next season.

Then came 2000, when Daal started 2-10 with Arizona before being traded to Philadelphia in midseason along with Travis Lee, Vicente Padilla and Nelson Figueroa for Curt Schilling. Things didn't get any better as he went 2-9 with the Phillies to finish with a league-high 19 losses.

He rebounded to go 13-7 with a 4.46 ERA for Philadelphia in 2001 before signing with Los Angeles. He earned $4.5million last season.

Daal had targeted the Orioles as a possible destination for a number of reasons, one being that he has a home near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the Orioles hold spring training.

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