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Rays keep watch on health of Aybar, Floyd

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have enough injury issues, with five players likely to open the season on the disabled list. But they'll feel a lot better about things if 3B Willy Aybar and DH Cliff Floyd feel good after their workouts today.

Aybar, sidelined nearly a week with a sore left hamstring, hit and played the field in a minor-league game with no problems Friday.

"He came out of it feeling pretty good," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We'll see how he feels (this) morning, but we're very optimistic on that front. The only challenging part is the fact that we're going to play in cold weather. It adds a little bit of hesitation when you have a minor hamstring tweak. … It's important to go into Baltimore feeling comfortable with the depth we have in the event that he can't go."

If Aybar is limited, the Rays could use either Elliot Johnson or whoever makes the team between Eric Hinske and Joel Guzman.

Floyd has been slowed by a sore knee, but Friedman said: "From all I know, he's going to be more than ready to go on opening day, and looking forward to getting going. That's what he said to me (Friday) morning."

NO ROCCIN: The Rays put OF Rocco Baldelli on the 60-day disabled list to make room for waiver claim Nathan Haynes, figuring even if Baldelli overcame the rare condition that leaves him fatigued he wouldn't be ready to play before the May  30 date he is eligible to return anyway.

Friedman said Baldelli has seen "definite improvement" but has not been participating in baseball activities so it was difficult to judge his progress.

KAZ UPDATE: Ace LHP Scott Kazmir (left elbow strain) not only feels "wonderful," but said he plans to throw a bullpen session Sunday, which would be the first time he has been on the mound in more than two weeks.

The Rays are looking at the situation as if Kazmir is just starting spring training, which, manager Joe Maddon said, means it "could be" a month until the ace lefty is ready for a regular-season game.

But Kazmir, naturally, is banking that it takes less time, hoping to make just a few extended spring training and minor-league rehab starts.

"Hopefully, it's not going to be as long as spring training," Kazmir said. "I'm happy where we're at right now. I think we took the right step to go about this, making sure everything is good."

TOUGH GOING: John Rodriguez and Jon Weber both had an opportunity when the Rays needed a left-handed-hitting outfielder, but neither had a good enough spring to avoid being sent to Triple A. Weber hit .191 and Rodriguez .171. "I didn't hit — point-blank," Rodriguez said. "If I would have hit, it would have been a different story. But I made it easy. I made that decision easy."

Andy Cannizaro looked like a frontrunner for a utility job after Ben Zobrist's left thumb injury, but then Cannizaro was sidelined for more than a week due to inflammation in his back and was sent to Triple A.

"There is that 'what if?' part," Cannizaro said. "Unfortunately, it's part of the game. It's not like I could do anything about it. I did everything I could have done to make sure it didn't happen. Just crappy timing."

MISCELLANY: Johnson earned the 2008 Al Lopez Award for the Rays top rookie during spring training. … RHP Matt Garza said he "felt great" after going five innings in the 6-3 loss to the Reds, his final tuneup before his Rays debut Wednesday. … The Rays will work out at Tropicana Field this morning before going to Sarasota. … Closer Troy Percival made his first ninth-inning appearance of the spring, giving up one run on three hits.

Rays keep watch on health of Aybar, Floyd 03/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 10:28pm]
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