Kazmir's bullpen session better than expected
Ace LHP Scott Kazmir said he felt "really good" Sunday after throwing off the mound for the first time in more than two weeks.
Kazmir, who is rehabbing from a left elbow strain suffered Feb. 26, threw about 35 pitches (all fastballs), switching from the windup to the stretch at the Naimoli Complex. The lefthander reported no pain, with "everything feeling free and easy."
"Everything went perfectly," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "Even better than I anticipated."
Hickey said Kazmir's command was "much better than I anticipated," with only three pitches just a little bit "off track."
The Rays recently outlined a plan where Kazmir will throw a couple bullpen sessions, at least one live batting practice and two-to-three extended spring starts before potentially making a major league start by the end of April. Hickey said things could get "accelerated," if Kazmir continues to progress quickly, but he wants to see another bullpen session or two before even thinking about that possibility.
For Kazmir, he was glad to get to throw off the mound for the first time since Mar. 13. Hickey said Kazmir will likely throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, mixing in some changeups, with another one later this week where they'll start putting in breaking balls.
"I've been playing catch forever," he said with a grin. "It was just good to get back on on the bump."
-- JOE SMITH