Kazmir diagnosis: left elbow strain
(UPDATE 1:03 P.M.) Scott Kazmir, predictably, has a more accelerated return in mind, saying he felt markedly better after one day of treatment and there is still a good chance he would be ready to start the March 31 opener.
"I wouldn't say definitely, but that's what we're shooting for,'' he said. "And if anything changes hopefully it wouldn't be too far from that day.''
Kazmir also interpreted the results as good news, saying: "It could have been a lot worse.''
LHP Scott Kazmir has inflammation and a left elbow strain, but will be sidelined "weeks not months,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said Wednesday.
"Relatively speaking, it is good news,'' Friedman said.
Friedman said the Rays would not put a specific timetable on Kazmir's return, but they expect him "at most" to miss only a few regular-season starts. The Times reported Wednesday that Kazmir is unlikely to make his expected opening day start and expected to miss about two weeks.
"I expect it would be two weeks at least until he is throwing to a hitter,'' Friedman said.
Friedman said an MRI and examination by Dr. Koco Eaton showed that "the nerves, the tendons, the ligaments, everything's intact.''
The first step is to get inflammation out of the elbow, then Kazmir will start a throwing program. "We're trying not to set an artificial timeline because it's dependent on how Scotty feels,'' Friedman said. "And it's imperative that the communication's there on both sides to get him to a point where he can start that throwing program and get this behind us. We don't want this to pop up in April or May or June, and be sure that we get this behind us. So we're going to do anything and everything while we have this time in March to insure that it's behind us, and when he gets back out on the mound that this is behind us and we put him in a position to pitch 200-plus innings for us this year.''
Though Kazmir could start throwing soon, he will need to slowly build up his arm strength so any time off during spring training is likely to translate to a similar absence during the season.
Friedman wouldn't rule out Kazmir making his expected opening day start - "It's not clear,'' he said - but it seems unlikely given the cautious way the prized 24-year-old lefthander will be handled.
"The good thing is, again, we're not looking through April,'' Friedman said. "If it's a start or two, that could be the case, or it coudl be no missed starts. I don't know yet. ... It's so dependent on how quickly the inflammation goes out, and then how he feels, that there's no way to put an actual date on it.''
Kazmir walked off the mound Tuesday after feeling "a little discomfort" while warming up for an intrasquad game, a sensation he described like this: "It felt like it just jammed a little bit, kind of like a hyperextension."
Friedman said top draft pick LHP David Price, who was scratched from his intrasquad outing due to shoulder stiffness, felt "much better" but would not throw on Wednesday and was likely to see Dr. Eaton on Thursday.
Also INF Reid Brignac, the team's top shortstop prospect, will be sidelined four to seven days with a broken pinky toe on his right foot. He was hit by a Chris Mason pitch in Tuesday's intrasquad.