06/12/2002 00:49 am ET
Daal complains of arm stiffness
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Filling in for the injury-prone ace who had back
surgery Tuesday, Omar Daal was whacked by the worst team in baseball, then
revealed he's not healthy, either.
"My shoulder has been a little sore, a little tight, and it pinches when I throw
a fastball," said Daal, charged with nine earned runs in the Dodgers' 11-2
whipping by the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "My fastball is usually 87-88 (mph),
today I can't get to 84."
Daal, who moves into the starting rotation every time Kevin Brown goes down,
figures after Brown's back surgery Tuesday to be there all year. Or as long as
Daal's left arm holds up.
Manager Jim Tracy's most valuable pitcher over the first two months, Daal lasted
only 4 1/3 innings Tuesday night. He was chased during a nine-run inning and
afterward sported tiny bandages covering acupuncture marks on his shoulder and
The left-hander first moved into the rotation when Brown tore scar tissue in
April and went 2-0 as a starter with a 0.73 ERA. Sent back to the bullpen, Daal
hasn't been the same since he pitched 1 2/3 innings Saturday night May 25 in
Arizona, then came back the next day to pitch another 3 1/3 innings of emergency
relief when Brown was hurt again.
"Those three innings was when it started to feel uncomfortable, when I stretched
to 70 pitches," said Daal. "Every time I want to throw the ball from the top is
when I feel pinch. The trainers say it should be all right and I trust them."
Daal faced 24 batters over an 18-hour span and held the Diamondbacks scoreless.
But in three starts since, he is 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA, in 16 1/3 innings
allowing 24 hits, four of them home runs. Daal's ERA since he returned to the
starting rotation has soared from 0.88 to 3.92.
Daal had his first acupuncture session Monday, then again after pitching Tuesday
night. The treatments were administered by Dennis Fukazawa, an intern from Japan
who has treated many of the Dodgers.
Apparently, word of Daal's condition never reached Tracy, who in his post-game
conference implied that Daal pitched better than the score indicated and sternly
insisted that to suspect there was anything wrong would be to "overanalyze and
create a problem that's not there."
Starting has been a sensitive subject with Daal, acquired over the winter as an
insurance policy following elbow surgeries to Brown, Andy Ashby and Darren
Dreifort. This is his free agent year and he demanded a trade this spring when
first sent to the bullpen.
"This is my opportunity. I'll do anything possible to keep pitching," he said.
"Right now we're in a pennant race. I know they need me now."
They also need middle reliever Giovanni Carrara, another apparent victim of his
versatility to pitch long and short. Carrara got roughed up again, too, allowing
two runs in two-thirds of an inning, including Jared Sandberg's second homer of
the inning, a three-run shot.
Carrara's problems are longer-running than Daal's, dating to the May 21 debacle
in Milwaukee, when he allowed two three-run homers. In 10 games from that date
through Tuesday night, Carrara has allowed 12 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings for a
Since that game, Tracy has not used Carrara for more than four outs in any
appearance. Prior to that date, Carrara had pitched more than 1 1/3 innings
eight times. His ERA was 2.17 before the Milwaukee appearance and now is 4.66.
Paul Lo Duca drove in both Dodger runs off Joe Kennedy, the fourth pitcher to
throw a complete game against the Dodgers this year.
Ken Gurnick covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. This story was not subject to
the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.