- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

BALTIMORE Omar Daal has played all but nine games of his 10-year major league career in the National League, and he wanted a change.
On several occasions during his career a few last season Daal would find himself pitching effectively late in the game. But if his team trailed he would be lifted for a pinch-hitter. His day on the mound would be through, though no fault of his own.
Daal became a free agent after pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He wanted to bolt to the American League, where he wouldn't have to worry about getting yanked for a pinch hitter or swinging a bat.
The Orioles offered him an opportunity as a starter with an improving young team and the chance to spend time with his family at his Weston, Fla., home, which is within commuting distance of the Orioles' spring training site in Fort Lauderdale.
Daal jumped at the offer, agreeing to a two-year contract worth $7.5 million. The Orioles introduced the newest addition to their starting rotation, who went 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 23 starts last season, at a news conference yesterday.
Daal, who made $5 million last season, said he originally wanted a three-year contract, but when he heard the Orioles were interested in offering him a two-year deal, he adjusted. Daal is close with Baltimore shortstop/outfielder Melvin Mora, a fellow Venezuelan with whom he played winter ball for the last 12 years.
"My first choice was Baltimore when I became a free agent, so when we started talking last week, I told my agent, 'Don't let it go, because I want to go there,'" Daal said.
The Orioles, heeding a request from manager Mike Hargrove, seized the opportunity to add a veteran left-hander to their rotation of righties; Baltimore has not had a regular left-hander in the rotation since Jimmy Key in 1998.
Daal's addition gives Baltimore six starters (including the five returning from last season) plus youngsters John Stephens and Sean Douglass, who are expected to challenge for starting slots. The club now has some flexibility in case of injury or if it wants to deal one or more of the starters, though Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said that was not a priority in signing Daal.
Flanagan said Daal will likely take a spot near the top of the rotation. Daal could become the Orioles' No.2 starter behind Rodrigo Lopez, though much still must be determined about the health of Pat Hentgen and Scott Erickson.
"We were looking for pitching [in general] first and someone that could pitch into the seventh inning pretty consistently," Flanagan said. "Omar has certainly done that. He's been able to stay healthy and you pretty much know what you're going to get each and every time out."
Daal pitched out of the bullpen for the Dodgers before he began starting almost exclusively in June when Kevin Brown went down with a back injury. For his first five seasons, he also pitched mainly in relief, but figures to stay entrenched in the Orioles' rotation.

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