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Garza on 15-day DL



Update, 11:00 p.m The Rays have placed RHP Matt Garza on the 15-day disabled list after he left the game with radial nerve irritation.

Garza said he's been bothered since late last year with similar type issues, but he's always been able to pitch through it.

Garza said his right hand felt numb, and he couldn't grip his pitches well. Before he could tolerate the discomfort. Until Tuesday.

"This time it was just real bad," Garza said. "I knew something was up."

The Rays have called up RHP Jae Kuk Ryu from Triple-A, but manager Joe Maddon said after the game that Ryu would likely come to help in the bullpen, and another starter will be called up to replace Garza - at least, temporarily - in the rotation (Jeff Niemann?).

Update, 8:45 p.m. Garza left the game with what the Rays said was "radial nerve irritation,'' which is the nerve that runs from the upper to lower part of the arm and from the back to the front. More details will be available after the game, but it doesn't sound particularly good.

Update, 8:09 p.m. Rays starter Matt Garza left the game in the top of third with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield. Garza was clearly struggling with command, having walked two of the last batters in an ugly three-run inning, and appeared to call for Porterfield to come out. Garza had thrown 70 pitches, and nine of his last 12 were balls.

Update 5:06 p.m. Manager Joe Maddon said the club was "very encouraged" with what they saw Tuesday from ace LHP Scott Kazmir, who threw a 42-pitch live batting practice at the Trop, his first BP session since mid-March.

Kazmir, who is rehabbing a left elbow strain, said he felt "great," throwing curveball, changeup and sliders with good location and, according to Maddon, hitting the low 90s in velocity. He faced Elliot Johnson, Willy Aybar, Nathan Haynes and Mike DiFelice, with DiFelice the only one to make significant, solid contact.

With the Rays leaving some wiggle room to eliminate a second BP depending on how Kazmir feels, the lefty was quick to say he's ready to throw in an extended spring training game (likely a two-inning, controlled situation at the minor league complex).

But Kazmir, Maddon & Co. will get together this afternoon, and possibly wait until how Kazmir feels Wednesday, before making that decision. If it's another batting practice session, it'd likely be Friday. If it's an extended spring, it would be later.

"It feels like everything is right where I want it to be," Kazmir said. "I'm ready to start games, but if they say I need another live batting practice, I'm not going to argue."

LHP Kurt Birkins also threw a batting practice session - his second in four days - -saying he felt stronger than his last one, and that he'll throw one inning in an extended spring training game on Friday.

Tropicana Field is bustling with activity as the Rays prepare for their home opener against the Mariners. Most of the attention pre-game is on the mound, where Scott Kazmir is throwing live batting practice as part of his recovery from a left elbow strain.

The Rays lineup has something of an interesting look too, as ths Rays try to combat Seattle lefthander Erik Bedard by starting Elliot Johnson - who had very limited experience in the outfield before this spring - in rightfield. That's somewhat surprising since Jonny Gomes - who has started 76 major-league games in rightfield - is also in the lineup, but at DH.

Also, Carlos Pena will receive his Players Choice AL Comeback Player of the Year award from James Shields in a pre-game ceremony.

The lineup:
Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Pena, 1b
Upton, cf
Gomes, DH
Aybar, 3b
Riggans, c
Johnson, rf
Bartlett, ss
Matt Garza is starting for the Rays.

Mariners lineup

Suzuki, cf
Lopez, 2b
Beltre, 3b
Ibanez, LF
Sexon, 1b
Wilkerson, RF
Vidro, DH
Johjima, C
Betancourt, SS
LHP Erik Bedard is starting for the Mariners

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:34am]


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