Kazmir looks good, Baldelli not so good
LHP Scott Kazmir looked good enough in a throwing session Thursday morning that manager Joe Maddon said he was now "pretty optimistic" Kazmir could make the opening day start on March 31.
Kazmir has been sidelined with an elbow strain but Maddon said the Rays have now mapped out a plan that could have Kazmir making his exhibition debut by the end of next week.
Kazmir played catch at a distance of about 90 feet on Thursday (and looked "very good,'' Maddon said) and assuming all remains well Kazmir would throw a bullpen session on Sunday or Monday, then "might be ready" for a spring game a few days after that.
"By doing that we could get him on task, or back on, possibly for the opening day of the season also, so we'll see how that all goes,'' Maddon said. "We'll be able to build back from the moment we know he can pitch in that game. ... From what I saw today I'm pretty optimistic. He looked normal and he was not holding back and I think it could be right about that time he's going to be ready to go.''
The news on OF Rocco Baldelli, however, wasn't good and potentially ominous, with Maddon saying Baldelli's next appearance (which was to be Thursday or Friday) may be delayed. Baldelli had two at-bats in Tuesday's rain-cancelled game - jogging to first after flying out - and apparently didn't respond well, and Maddon said a decision on whether he could play Fridya would be made in the morning, but it didn't sound good.
"He just wasn't up to speed and I've just got to make sure with (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) this being the vague situation that it is,'' Maddon said. "I'm just really not sure that he's going to be able to play (Friday) based on recovery after the last time out.''
Baldelli missed most of last season with hamstring injuries and the Rays have planned to take it slow throughout the spring.