Daal signs with Orioles
BALTIMORE, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Veteran southpaw Omar Daal has come to terms with the Baltimore Orioles.
His signing was another in the offseason plan of new general manager Mike Flanagan, who said he would spend the winter looking for pitching and a power hitter.
Daal, 30, a native of Venezuela, inked a two-year contract. Last season, he was 11-9 with a 3.90 ERA, and logged 161 1/3 innings in 39 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 23 starts.
"He's a welcome addition, especially because we didn't have a left-hander in the rotation," said Flanagan. "Anytime you can upgrade your pitching, you do it."
The Orioles relied heavily on their bullpen last season and paid for it in the final six weeks, when the club finished 4-32.
Orioles starters were 42-75 with a 4.95 ERA last season.
The signing of Daal likely means the end of the tenure of either righty Jason Johnson or Scott Erickson, who is recovering from a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder.
Daal was 24-16 in the past two years with Philadelphia and the Dodgers. He made $5 million last season.
For his career, the 6-3, 195-pounder, who also has pitched for Montreal and Toronto, is 64-67 with an ERA of 4.40. He has appeared in 1105 innings in 373 games, and has given up 129 homers.
His best season was 1999, when he went 16-9 for the Diamondbacks in their championship campaign.
Vikings promote O'Leary
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Minnesota Vikings Wednesday announced the promotion of George O'Leary to defensive coordinator.
The promotion was announced by Coach Mike Tice, who himself received a vote of confidence from owner Red McCombs near the end of the season.
Tice is re-organizing his staff, and the O'Leary promotion is part of that process. O'Leary had been assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
As defensive coordinator, O'Leary replaces Willie Shaw, who held a similar post in 2002. Under Shaw, the Vikings were 26th in the NFL in total defense. Only the Cincinnati Bengals (456) and Detroit Lions (451) allowed more points than Minnesota (442).
O'Leary coached at Georgia Tech before being forced to resign days after taking the Notre Dame job in December 2001. He coached Tice in high school. O'Leary joined Tice's staff soon after the incident at Notre Dame.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will assume the duties of quarterbacks coach while Pete Bercich will handle O'Leary's former duties as defensive line chores.
Minnesota went 6-10 in 2002 and Tice is 6-11 as the Vikings' coach.
Lions fire two assistants
ALLEN PARK, Mi., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Detroit Lions Wednesday fired wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey and linebackers coach Glenn Pires.
Both men spent two years on the job in Detroit, and basically were scapegoated in connection with the Lions' miserable 3-13 season in 2002. Team President Matt Millen and Coach Marty Mornhinweg already have been given reprieves.
The Lions closed the season with eight straight losses, and their winning percentage of .156 over the last two seasons is the worst for such a span in franchise history.
There was speculation that Millen would be fired as president and that Mornhinweg would be let go as coach, but owner William Clay Ford decided on New Year's Eve to bring the pair back for another season.
Kirksey spent one season as wide receivers coach at Texas A&M and six seasons in the same role with the San Francisco 49ers before being hired by the Lions.
Pires was linebackers coach of the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons before landing with the Lions prior to the 2001 season.
Sonics activate James
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Seattle Sonics have activated center Jerome James and placed rookie forward Reggie Evans on the injured list.
James, who is averaging 3.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest, had missed the last 27 games with a stress fracture in his right foot. He played in Tuesday night's 119-98 road loss to the Lakers, finishing with two points and four rebounds before fouling out.
Evans was placed on the injured list with a sore right shoulder that he sustained in practice. He is averaging 2.4 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Two records for Bryant
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- When Kobe Bryant exploded for 45 points against Seattle Tuesday night, he set two NBA records in the process.
With 6:58 remaining, Bryant sank his 12th three-pointer in 16 attempts, breaking the one-game mark of 11 set by Dennis Scott of Orlando against the Atlanta Hawks on April 18, 1996.
After missing his first attempt from the arc, Bryant made nine straight, six in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, to break the single-game record for consecutive treys, which was held by three players.
For the game, Bryant went 16-for-28 from the floor, and got two rousing standing ovations from the crowd at Staples Center.
"That was," said Coach Phil Jackson, "perhaps the greatest shooting streak I think I have ever seen in my life. In NBA basketball, that was quite an exhibition."
For his part, Bryant tried to be low-key.
"It just felt like my rhythm was great," Bryant said. "I just felt incredible rhythm and a calmness. It's right up there with probably the best shooting performances of my career, but a different type of zone."
He scored 56 in a game last season.
It was the most points scored by the Lakers this season, who are in the midst of their best five-game stretch of the campaign.
The defending world champions, who have struggled this season, now are 15-20 and in fifth place in the Pacific Division, 11 games behind front-running Sacramento.
Chicago sends Mironov to Rangers
CHICAGO, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday sent Boris Mironov to New York for a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft.
The Blackhawks had been seeking a taker for the disgruntled defenseman, who was suspended indefinitely on Dec. 5 after leaving the team. He returned on Dec. 31 to begin a conditioning stint, but has not played since a 3-2 loss at Anaheim on Dec. 1.
Mironov, 30, has three goals, an assist and 22 penalty minutes in 20 games this season. He was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in a seven-player trade in March 1999.
The 6-3, 223-pounder, a native of Russia, appeared in 220 games with the Blackhawks, recording 21 goals, 69 assists, and 231 penalty minutes. In his career, Mironov has 70 goals, 209 assists, and 771 penalty minutes in 605 games with Winnipeg, Edmonton and Chicago.
New York (15-21-6-1) is last in the Atlantic Division, despite having one of the highest payrolls in the NHL. Three of the team's higher-paid stars, goaltender Mike Richter (concussion), Pavel Bure (knee), and defenseman Brian Leetch (ankle) are on injured reserve.
Leetch, the team's best defenseman, has missed 14 games.
Roddick upset at Sydney
SYDNEY, Australia, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Andy Roddick, the sixth seed, Wednesday lost to Hyung-Taik Lee at the adidas International hardcourt tennis event.
The scores were 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 in their second-round matchup. It was the first time in six career meetings that Lee, a qualifier, has beaten Roddick.
"It was match point, he was playing with the wind, I was playing against it," Roddick said after another day of tough weather conditions. "I took a grip and took full heaves at it. Normally it would have gone out of the stadium, but it actually went in. I made four in a row. I'm not going to beat myself up over the loss. It was unbelievable conditions."
Roddick reached the adidas semifinals last year, but was eliminated in the second round of the Australian Open. A winner of five ATP titles, Roddick is the ninth seed at this year's Australian Open, which begins Monday.
Lee, 27, a native of Seoul, South Korea, avenged his quarterfinals loss to Roddick at last year's event. His best results in 2002 came at Sydney and at the Queen's Club in London, where he also advanced to the final eight.
Safin, who lost in the finals of last year's Australian Open, rallied past Jarko Nieminen of Finland, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, and next faces Lee. Ferrero posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory in his first career meeting with Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.
Moya, who lost to Ferrero in the semifinals of the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, was beaten by qualifier Mardy Fish of the United States, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4.
"I'm very relieved to win a match like that," Fish said. "I've been in a position to win matches like that before and I haven't come through. I kept saying to myself that this is the year for me to win these type of matches. I was down a break in the third, and I just wanted to keep holding serve and I knew I'd have a chance to break him."
Rainer Schuettler of Germany also posted an upset, beating No. 8 Gaston Gaudio of Argentina, 7-6 (7-5), 6-0. Seventh-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan, who led the ATP Tour by winning 40 matches on hard courts in 2002, advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with Ferrero by posting a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
"I lost the first set and was down a break, but I just tried to hang in the match, holding onto my serve, having a good time," Srichaphan said. "You have to get used to the weather, get used to the conditions at different tournaments. My body feels OK even though I've played a lot of matches because I've been working hard off the court."
Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who captured his first career title Sunday in Adelaide, was swept by lucky loser Franco Squillari of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4, and hard-serving Wayne Ferreira of South Africa also moved on with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 win over Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.
On the women's side, Belgium's Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, the second and third seeds, cruised into the quarterfinals at the New South Wales Tennis Centre.
Clijsters encountered little trouble from Switzerland's Patty Schnyder, moving on with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph. Henin-Hardenne had an even easier time with Slovakia's Janette Husarova, registering a 6-1, 6-0 rout.
No. 6 seed Lindsay Davenport, who played just nine WTA events last year after returning from a knee injury, cruised past countrywoman Lisa Raymond, 6-4, 6-1, and seventh-seeded Chanda Rubin swept past fellow Alexandra Stevenson, 6-1, 6-3, but No. 8 Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria was ousted by Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, 6-4, 6-1.
Also, Olga Barabanschikova of Belarus beat Russia's Elena Bovina, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2.