Tampa Bay Rays LHP Scott Kazmir encouraged after rehab start; on to Durham
Update: 9:08 p.m. Tampa Bay Rays LHP Scott Kazmir was encouraged with his rehab start for Class-A Charlotte, the life he had on his fastball and the depth in his changeup and curveball. And he said he physically felt great, endurance wise, after going 4 2/3 innings (65 pitches), giving up just three hits while striking out five.
Kazmir will next pitch Monday in Triple-A Durham, hoping to throw 80-85 pitches, and feels he's close to rejoining the Rays rotation. As much as he's felt better, and more confident with his mechanics, during bullpen sessions and a simulated game, actually pitching in a live game was a big test.
"It’s a huge step," Kazmir said. "You can do it all you want in the bullpen, but once you get live hitters out there, it's a little different story, you get that adrenaline going. It's just completely different out there,you got a little bit more life to it. You got the adrenaline, so you fly off your mechanics if you're not right."
Kazmir said the drills he's been doing recent have made things more simple in his delivery.
"It feels like I'm going out there and just letting it go, and that's the kind of pitcher I am," he said. "I go out here and throw the ball, I want to hit my spot but I'm a max effort guy.
"The past couple seasons I haven't been that guy.I've been the pitcher that's trying to be completely perfect in my delivery and I just need to go out there and get everything simple."
And Kazmir says he feels like he's getting closer to where he want to be, how he was pitching in 2007, before his mechanics got off track.
"It just feels, at times, effortless," he said. "Like I'm not trying to do anything and the ball just jumps. And that's where I want to be. I want to be out there not worrying about mechanics, just doing what I do and getting hitters out. I feel like I'm not thinking out there anymore about what I'm doing, about what my legs are doing, how my body is. I'm just going out there and throwing strikes."
Kazmir sure did, throwing 44 of his 65 pitches for strikes.
Update: 8:23 p.m. Kazmir's night is over, and he'll have to be pretty happy with how it went.
Kazmir went 4 2/3 scoreless innings (one out from qualifying for a win) for Class- A Charlotte, but was pulled after reaching his 65-pitch limit.
He gave up just three hits, striking out five (and walking just one). Kazmir showed some good command, and it appeared he was able to mix in his changeup and slider pretty well. He tipped his cap to the crowd, which gave him a pretty good ovation.
We'll get to talk to him in a few minutes, so will let you know how he felt.
Update: 8:07 p.m. Kazmir worked a quick fourth - it was nearly a six-pitch inning, but a throwing error on shortstop Omar Luna prolonged it a bit.
Kazmir got two strikeouts in the inning (the first on three pitches), and when he missed, it was real close.
He now has five strikeouts (one walk) and has thrown 53 pitches. Just two hits.
Update: 7:54 p.m. Kazmir appears to be getting better - and more efficient- as the start goes on. This was his first 1-2-3 inning, where he threw just 11 pitches (eight strikes), clocking 93 mph on a radar gun here..
He picked up another strikeout - he has three - and has thrown 42 pitches over three innings.
Update: 7:38 p.m. Kazmir worked through the second, giving up a single but also getting three groundouts, throwing 13 pitches (nine strikes).
He's getting ahead of hitters, and making them put it in play (just one walk).
And the Stone Crabs scored two early runs, and are up 2-0.
Update: 7:15 p.m. Kazmir gets through his first inning unscathed, giving up a single and a walk, but stranding two runners (thanks to two strikeouts). He got ahead of most of the hitters in the inning. Both strikeouts were swinging, looks like he's got his slider working well.
He threw 18 pitches.
Tampa Bay Rays LHP Scott Kazmir is making his first rehab start, with Class A Charlotte against the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
He's expected to throw four innings, or 65-70 pitches, whichever comes first.
We'll keep you posted how he's doing as the game goes along. Not a ton of fans here, guessing a few hundred. The Stone Crabs have had their share of Rays on their roster this season, with B.J. Upton here their opening week, and Pat Burrell and Jason Bartlett here for stints this past week.
One of their folks just told me they are, however, 1-6 when a Ray is in their lineup. We'll see if that changes tonight.
Kazmir was placed on the 15-day DL May 22nd with a strained right quadriceps, but he's also been working through some mechanical issues that he's dealt with since last season. Kazmir threw a simulated game Friday at Tropicana Field, with three innings (45 pitches), and performed well.
Providing there's no setbacks in this start, Kazmir will move on to Triple-A Durham for a start Monday and be re-evaluated.
- JOE SMITH