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Phils name Daal opening-day starter

Left-hander Omar Daal, who led the major leagues with 19 losses last year, was announced as the opening-day starter Friday.

Speculation had centered on right-hander Robert Person opening the season for Philadelphia, but Daal has been sharp this spring, with a 1.13 ERA and team-high seven strikeouts in three starts.

"He's had a great spring," manager Larry Bowa said. "I know he had some problems last year, but I think they were physical, and I think he's regrouped."

Bowa said he also wanted to break up the three left-handers in the starting rotation: Daal, Bruce Chen and Randy Wolf. Daal, 29, was acquired from Arizona in last year's Curt Schilling trade. Bowa said he could have as easily chosen Person to start against the Marlins April 2.

Person was arrested in Ybor City last month after refusing to walk away from a fight, but Bowa said the off-field problems had "no bearing whatsoever" on his decision.

HEATING UP: Leftfielder Pat Burrell, who has seven of his team-high 13 RBI in the past two games, continued his tear. Burrell drove in two runs with a double off the leftfield wall in the third, then brought in two more with his second home run of the spring, a 400-foot shot to right-centerfield.

"I'm really starting to feel a lot better up there," said Burrell, who has seven hits in two days to improve his average to .410. "I think I came in this spring with a lot more confidence."

Burrell and catcher Mike Lieberthal hit back-to-back homers in the fifth, and first baseman Travis Lee went 3-for-4 with a walk.

SENT DOWN: The Phillies made their first cuts in more than a week, sending nine players to Carpenter Complex to leave 36 players on roster.

Pitcher David Coggin and outfielders Reggie Taylor and Eric Valent were optioned to Triple-A Scranton; pitcher Jimmy Osting and shortstop Nick Punto were optioned to Double-A Reading; and first baseman Gene Schall, catcher Eric Schreimann and pitchers Rigo Beltran and Jason Boyd were reassigned to the minor-league complex.

TODAY: Person is scheduled to start the 1:05 p.m. game in Clearwater against the Indians. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three spring starts. Charles Nagy is scheduled to start for Cleveland. Philadelphia will wear green caps for St. Patrick's Day.

_ GREG AUMAN

Carpenter has worst outing

DUNEDIN _ Chris Carpenter got his strikeouts. He just struck out with everything else.

Carpenter's five strikeouts were the only highlight as he had his first bumpy start.

The right-hander, who had allowed six hits and three runs in his three previous outings combined, gave up more hits (seven) and as many runs in five innings of work.

They were the only runs the Rangers scored in their 3-2 win. Carpenter took his first loss.

Last season Carpenter went 10-12 with a 6.26 ERA, his first season back since having bone spurs removed from his elbow in September 1999.

NO SHOWS: Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Rodriguez did not make the trip for the Rangers. The team is in the midst of an eight-game road trip and is spreading out its starters. Also missing were Rusty Greer and Gabe Kapler, both nursing injuries.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former Hillsborough High standout Jason Romano made a brief appearance as a pinch-runner. Romano was in the Futures All-Star Game last season.

UP NEXT: Right-hander Esteban Loaiza is scheduled to start when the Jays host the Yankees at 1:05 p.m today. Left-hander Sid Fernandez starts for New York.

_ BOB PUTNAM

Jeter out again

KISSIMMEE _ Shortstop Derek Jeter left the game against the Braves in the third inning with a tight right quadriceps.

Jeter was playing in just his fifth game this spring. He missed eight with a shoulder injury and another with viral infection in his throat. He is expected to miss 2-3 days.

Starting pitcher Adrian Hernandez, bidding for the fifth spot in the rotations, allowed four runs and four hits in three innings.

_ TIMES WIRES

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