Tampa Bay Rays (32 days until Opening Day)

While Scott Kazmir is still aiming to be ready to take the mound on Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31st, Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are taking a much more cautious approach.

“I know, with pitchers, there’s a certain prestige that goes with something like starting Opening Day and everybody wants to be able to do that if they’re capable,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I get all that, but the bigger picture is much more important right now, so we’re not going to be influenced in that regard.”

While Kazmir says he understands the importance of taking it slow, he has no concerns that he will be able to get back on the mound quickly.

“Definitely,” Kazmir said. “I’m going to take it slow, but I think this is something that is going to heal pretty quick and the inflammation is going to go down pretty quick. I’m confident I’m going to be out there pretty soon.”

But pitching coach Jim Hickey wants to make sure there are no further setbacks.

“Our goal is that once he retakes the mound that he never comes back off of it,” Hickey said. “I would rather him begin late and finish with all consecutive starts vs. maybe getting back a little bit early and have a two-week setback.”

Maddon in fact may already be resigned to skipping Kazmir on opening day by giving Kid K the fifth spot in the rotation. Maddon stated that the five pitchers fighting for the final two spots in the rotation will get more innings in the Spring with Kazmir out.

“Somebody’s going to benefit from this – in the short term, anyhow,” Maddon said.

With Kazmir and the Rays having clashed late in 2007 over his pitch counts, it will be interesting to see if the team will be able to reign in their young ace while they are erring on the side of caution.

Kazmir, Rays see different plans [Tampa Tribune]
Rays planning to hold a tight rein on Kazmir [St. Pete Times]

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • James Shields and Matt Garza each worked one inning in yesterday’s intrasquad contest. Both pitchers allowed one hit. [Herald-Tribune]
  • Rocco Baldelli was originally scheduled to play the outfield in yesterday’s intrasquad game, but was moved to DH due to inclement weather. Now Joe Maddon says that Baldelli will not see action in the field until next week. [Tampa Tribune]
  • David Price felt fine yesterday after missing a pitching session on Tuesday with shoulder tightness. Price says he is day-to-day and pitching coach Jim Hickey said the move was purely “precautionary”. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • The Giants suddenly find themselves devoid of any major league shortstops. McCovey Chronicles thinks Ben Zobrist could be the answer. We glanced over their system and we are wondering if Pat Misch would get the deal done. Misch is a lefty that like Zobrist, posted outstanding minor league numbers that have yet to translate in the major leagues. [McCovey Chronicles]
  • Willy Aybar finally arrived in camp and thanked the team for their support and apologized to his teammates for the distraction. [Bradenton Herald]
  • Rays of Light takes a closer look at Al Reyes in their ongoing “Player Spotlight” series. [Rays of Light]
  • DRays Bay has put together a “DRB Season Preview Guide” that is free to download. We have not yet had a chance to look through it. [DRays Bay]
 
 

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