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Rays ace Kazmir blasts teammates' focus

CLEVELAND — LHP Scott Kazmir accused teammates of paying more attention to their competitors' results than their own play and said that is a primary reason for the Rays' recent struggles.

"We've got to worry about ourselves and concentrate on what's going on in front of us," Kaz­mir said before Friday's game. "You see guys coming in right from playing on defense and they're like, 'What's the Boston score? What's the Boston score?' That's not how you're supposed to do it."

Kazmir said the problems started when the Rays moved into first place, eventually opening a five-game lead, and thinks they lost their edge as a result.

"We need to still have that chip on our shoulder — that's what got us there," he said.

"When we actually believed we could stay up in first place, it was like, 'Okay, what are they doing? Let's just make sure that we keep up with those guys.' When it should be like, 'Let's make sure we play a quality game every single time we go out there and try to win.' Instead of, 'Okay, these guys lost, maybe we could make up ground, but whatever, we're good right now, we're in the clear.' It should not be like that."

More troubling, he said it is happening during games.

"We've got to focus on ourselves, focus on our game at hand. That's huge," Kazmir said. "If we do our job, if we do what we need to do, then it will take care of itself. We have the talent to do that. But if we're worried what the Yankees and what the Red Sox are doing at that point — it's like the fifth inning and we're wondering what their score is — we could be in trouble like that."

But, he said, "I think we'll be perfectly fine if we concentrate just on ourselves."

Starry-eyed: Even before he got invited to participate in Monday's home run derby, Evan Longoria got a sense of how crazy the All-Star experience will be.

He left his cell phone in his hotel room because it wasn't working Thursday, the day the final voting was announced. When he got back after the game and tried the phone, it worked fine — and there were 70 missed messages.

"It's been pretty wild," he said. "(The Rays PR staff) and my agent have been doing a good job controlling the traffic as far as what I have to deal with, so I've been fortunate."

Longoria's parents, two brothers and a sister will join him in New York.

Rehab report: SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) looked good in a workout Friday but still isn't 100 percent in lateral movement and might not be ready for the July 18 post-break opener, manager Joe Maddon said. "I think it will be pretty close." … RHP Al Reyes' shoulder felt good after he threw at 87 mph, and hit 89 mph a couple of times, in his second rehab appearance Thursday for Class A Vero Beach. He'll throw again Sunday and Monday. … RHP Troy Percival (left hamstring strain) will throw from the mound today for the first time since going on the DL.

Miscellany: RHP Wade Davis and C John Jaso, two top prospects, will be promoted to Triple-A Durham after playing in Monday's Double-A Southern League All-Star Game, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. … The Indians called up Matt Ginter to start tonight.

Rays ace Kazmir blasts teammates' focus 07/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 3:15pm]

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