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Kazmir likely to rejoin Tampa Bay Rays soon; question is who goes



LHP Scott Kazmir is likely to rejoin the Rays rotation this weekend, but a final decision on when, and who will go, won't come for another day or two.

"It's looking good right now to get him back out there,'' manager Joe Maddon said.

Manager Joe Maddon said they will wait to see how Kazmir feels Thursday since he threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Kazmir said it went well: "Everything felt great, threw all my pitches, I wasn't as sore as I was last outing. So I feel good, I'm ready to go.''

Maddon said it's more a question of deciding how to rearrange the rotation and who to remove. The options are to send LHP David Price or RHP Andy Sonnanstine to the minors, or the move Sonnanstine or RHP Jeff Niemann to the bullpen.

Sonnanstine is starting Thursday, so the Rays might want to see how he pitches before deciding. Niemann is scheduled to start on Saturday and Price on Sunday.

"They all can count, everybody can add it up - you've got five starters and you understand or realize in order to get Kaz out there we've got to do something,'' Maddon said. "But honestly we have not determined who that is going to be or how we are going to do it yet. ... We've had some discussions, we're trying to narrow it down and figure out the best way to do this. There's different variables involved and there's different ways to look at it.''

Maddon said he, executive VP Andrew Friedman and pitching coach Jim Hickey talked about the options and "went back and forth, back and forth" and then tabled it. "It's one of those things that we've just got to keep talking it over, talking it over and when we have to make the final decision we will,'' he said. "It's a tough one.''

Plus, the decision about making room for Kazmir is impacted by the expected return as soon as Monday of RHP Chad Bradford. The Rays can easily make one spot in the bullpen by sending down Winston Abreu. But finding another opening - if they move Niemann or  Sonnanstine to relief - would be more difficult. For example, getting rid of Randy Choate would leave them with only one lefty, J.P. Howell.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:48am]


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