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Rays' Anderson's career comes to a close

FORT MYERS — LHP Brian Anderson's comeback attempt is over. So is his career.

Anderson, trying to come back from two Tommy John elbow surgeries, tore the ulnar collateral ligament and the flexor mass muscle Wednesday and won't be able to pitch again.

"He's done," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays had been encouraged that the likable left-hander, 35, would be able to bolster their bullpen and add more personality to their clubhouse, based on how well he had thrown and that he was ahead of schedule.

"It's really a big disappointment," Maddon said. "He was doing so well, and we were starting to really count on the fact that he was going to help us this year."

KAZ CRISP: LHP Scott Kazmir looked sharp in a 33-pitch batting practice session Thursday morning, and if all checks out today he will make his exhibition debut Sunday against the Tigers.

Kazmir, admitting he felt "amped up," mixed in about five sliders and changeups and said all "felt good" as he faced Jon Weber and Joel Guzman.

"I saw nothing but good right there," Maddon said.

Kazmir had been set back since an elbow strain on Feb. 26 but now looks like he will be ready for the start of the season, though he might be pushed to the back of the rotation and make his debut April 5 or 6.

GARZA GOOD: No. 3 starter Matt Garza, who already had faced the Tigers and Yankees, looked good against a regulars-heavy Red Sox lineup Thursday, working into the fifth inning and allowing only four hits.

"It was primarily a fastball day for him, and philosophically I kind of liked that from him," Maddon said. "There were more high-quality strikes on a consistent basis."

Garza, who threw 71 pitches (47 strikes), said some slight mechanical adjustments suggested by pitching coach Jim Hickey paid off. "I'm not there completely, but I'm getting there," Garza said.

J.P. DUTY: LHP J.P. Howell made a fourth impressive relief appearance (1.12 ERA) as the Rays are giving him heavy consideration for the long-man role. "Right now, I think that's their plan," Howell said.

Maddon said Howell fits the role well because hitters (righties and lefties) have trouble hitting him the first time through the lineup, and that Howell seems more confident in that role. "I like how he does that," Maddon said.

Howell said one of the reasons he likes relieving rather than starting is that it keeps him involved mentally on a daily basis, whereas sometimes he "can get lost" with four days off between starts.

Maddon said: "I could see him getting lost with four days off to do as he wished. He's beyond the typical left-hander."

TOUGH TIE: The Rays led 2-1 in the ninth Thursday, but Mitch Talbot (back in his own uniform after wearing Juan Salas' on Wednesday) gave up a leadoff homer to Brandon Moss. The Rays went ahead in the 10th, when Elliot Johnson — in the middle of something else — walked, went to third on Eric Hinske's single and scored on Chris Richard's sacrifice fly, but Kurt Birkins couldn't hold the lead.

MISCELLANY: Top draft pick LHP David Price was assigned to the advanced Class A Vero roster rather than Double-A Montgomery. & Weber, emerging as a frontrunner for Rocco Baldelli's outfield spot if the Rays stay in-house, had another good showing with a strong throw from leftfield and a second-inning homer to right. & INF/OF Joel Guzman looked bad booting a fly ball.

Rays' Anderson's career comes to a close 03/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:11pm]
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