Kazmir set back, won't pitch Sunday
In what has to be considered a concerning development, LHP Scott Kazmir has been scratched from his scheduled exhibition debut on Sunday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon insisted Kazmir was "fine" and there was "nothing wrong with him,'' but said the Rays wanted to give him time to "build up more arm strength.''
Also, LF Carl Crawford was scratched from Saturday's game due to tightness in his legs, which Maddon also said was not serious.
After a Feb. 26 elbow strain, Kazmir had been working his way back into form and had made enough progress that the Rays were projecting him to pitch sometime the first week of the season. But that seems to be in jeopardy now, and the likelihood he could open the year on the disabled list would seem to have increased, though Maddon said it was still possible he could pitch in the first five or six games.
"We just want to try to build up a little more arm strength before we put him back out there,'' Maddon said. "He's fine. There's not a thing wrong with him. During the season he probably would have pitched but I just want to build up a little more arm strength with this whole thing.''
RHP James Shields will start Sunday for the Rays, and in all likelihood will be on the mound for the March 31 opener in Baltimore.
Maddon said Kazmir will be limited to playing catch for a few days then have to throw another bullpen session before the Rays would consider putting him in a game. "It's a couple days, it's not necessarily a setback,'' Maddon said.
The delay "is probably going to definitely" eliminate Kazmir from the March 31 opener, Maddon said.
Crawford came in early Saturday and told the trainers both his legs were tight. "C.C. just came up a little bit tight today,'' Maddon said. "I just think the field was kind of wet (Friday) and sometimes when you run on soft ground that can happen. So his legs were a little bit tight today and we said "No" . I just took him out of the lineup.'' Maddon said under regular season or playoff situation Crawford could have played.
Maddon said Crawford could return to action Sunday, but with the Rays off Monday it would seem reasonable they'd wait until Tuesday.