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Kazmir reports to Rays, Reyes' return delayed a few days

BALTIMORE — When LHP Scott Kazmir arrived after an early morning flight from Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, the team hotel did not have a room ready for him.

That was somewhat symbolic, as the Rays still have to make room for him in their rotation.

Kazmir pronounced himself "fully, 100 percent ready to go" with no issues from the spring elbow strain, and the Rays officially slotted him to make his season debut Sunday in Boston.

RHP Al Reyes, however, will make at least one more rehab appearance before being reinstated from the disabled list, which could buy the Rays more time before they make what manager Joe Maddon calls "a tough decision" on restructuring their staff.

Had Reyes come back Thursday as expected, the Rays likely would have optioned LHP Kurt Birkins to Triple A, then had to open another spot on the 25-man roster by Sunday for Kazmir, probably by demoting either Andy Sonnanstine or Matt Garza or dropping a reliever to make room in the bullpen for Sonnanstine.

But Reyes (shoulder impingement) will pitch in extended spring Thursday, and depending how he feels Friday, his return could be delayed until next week. That way, the Rays could drop Birkins to make room for Kazmir and hold off temporarily on the other move.

"We know we have to do something on Sunday … we don't know when we have to do the Reyes thing yet," Maddon said. "That could be Friday, it could be Monday, I don't know yet. It could be Saturday or Sunday. Him coming back off the outing on Thursday will tell us what we have to do."

Reyes struck out the three batters he faced in 12 pitches for Class A Vero on Monday and was clocked at 88 mph, but, according to Maddon, wants another rehab outing to prepare for regular, and back-to-back, duty.

"In his mind's eye he just needed to pitch one more time out to ensure the fact that he's going to be well and pitch as we want to use him when he comes back," Maddon said.

Kazmir said he is now glad the Rays took a cautious approach in bringing him back and is eager to get on the mound, having hit 94 mph and having good command of all pitches in his final rehab appearance Monday at Triple-A Durham. "I've watched them enough on TV," he said. "You kind of just want to pull your hair out because you just want to get out there and contribute and be with the team. I'm just excited to be here."

MORE MEDICAL: Cliff Floyd, who had right knee surgery on April 11, is scheduled to start DHing in extended spring training games on Thursday and could be ready to be activated on the next homestand. … INF Ben Zobrist is getting at-bats in extended spring despite his fractured left thumb but was sore after taking ground balls.

PRICE CHECK: Top draft pick LHP David Price continues to work his way back from a spring elbow strain and said he will make the first of 3-4 extended spring starts on Friday, then eventually join Vero. Though acknowledging he's nervous to throw 100 percent, Price said his pitches "aren't causing any pain, so that's a good sign."

THE DO RUN RUN: Carl Crawford has led the AL in stolen bases four times and in triples three times. But now he leads in something he considers more important: runs, with 24 in 26 games. "The main goal is for me to score," Crawford said. "I'm trying to touch home plate as many times as I can. Runs are the ultimate thing."

MISCELLANY: It was 63 degrees at the start and in the low 50s by the end of the game. … Pre- and post-game radio host Rich Herrera will host a watch/listen party tonight at Smokey Bones restaurant (2693 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater). … RHP Jeff Niemann, who hasn't pitched since being optioned to Durham on April 21 due to what the Rays said was soreness, is slated to start Saturday. … RHP Jason Hammel is now 0-4, 7.45 in six starts against the Orioles.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Kazmir reports to Rays, Reyes' return delayed a few days 04/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2008 8:55am]
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