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Scott Kazmir replaces Andy Sonnanstine in Tampa Bay Rays' rotation

ST. PETERSBURG — Andy Sonnanstine was dropped from the Rays rotation to Triple-A Durham to make room for LHP Scott Kazmir to start tonight.

The Rays also designated RHP Winston Abreu for assignment so RHP Chad Bradford could be activated.

Sonnanstine was the odd man out as the Rays opted to keep LHP David Price and RHP Jeff Niemann in the rotation. Price will start Sunday, Niemann was bumped to Monday.

Sonnanstine, a 13-game winner last season, was 6-7 this season despite the best run support in the majors, had a 6.61 ERA that was highest of all regular major-league starters and allowed a .305 average.

Manager Joe Maddon said the decision was a combination of Sonnanstine's performance and others factors; Niemann, for example, couldn't be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers since he is out of options.

"You look at (Sonnanstine"s) numbers overall, hits per innings pitched (103 in 81 2/3), etc. – he's better than that and he knows it,'' Maddon said. "So we want him to go back down and get his innings and keep pitching and kind of step back from the situation and get himself back to where he had been at the end of last season, which I believe he will.''

Kazmir said he was excited to return to active duty after more than a month on the DL in which he allowed a right quads strain to heal and rebuild his mechanics. "I'm looking forward to it,'' he said.

The Rays are too, and will have him on a somewhat standard 95-100 pitch limit.

"Really eager to see that based on what's been going on at the minor-league level (in two rehab starts),'' Maddon said. "It's good to get him back.''

Abreu, who is out of options, starred at Triple-A but pitched just twice for the Rays; they have 10 days to release, trade or pass him through waivers to send him back to Durham. Bradford has been recovering from off-season elbow surgery.

Sonnanstine left without addressing the media.

Longoria back: 3B Evan Longoria returned to the starting lineup, as expected, after missing one game.

Longoria left Wednesday after the seventh when he felt a twinge in the previously injured left hamstring (for which he missed six starts this month). But manager Joe Maddon said Longoria was "adamant" he was ready to go.

Longoria went 2-for-4 on Friday, including a single in the third that gave the Rays a 2-1 lead.

PHILLIE, FAN FIGHT: An incident took place between a fan and a Phillies player after Thursday's game, the Rays confirmed. ''At this point it is a police matter and for that reason we won't have any further comment," the team said in a statement, but did not identify the player. St. Petersburg Police officials could not be reached late Friday night, but a dispatcher confirmed that a report for a battery call was taken at the stadium at about 11 p.m. Thursday. The Phillies could not be reached for comment.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Apparently, instant replay should not have been used in the seventh Thursday to determine if there was fan interference on a double by DH Pat Burrell. Major League Baseball on Friday told an umpiring crew it mistakenly went to a video review. Replay, it said, is to be used only on potential homers.

MISCELLANY: OF Gabe Gross had a career-high matching three hits. … RHP Dan Wheeler has worked 222/3 innings against the Marlins without allowing a run. ... The Rays are 11-5 in interleague play. … Marlins OF Chris Coghlan, an East Lake High graduate, had more than 100 tickets for family and friends Friday. … The Marlins had been on a five-game winning streak.

Scott Kazmir replaces Andy Sonnanstine in Tampa Bay Rays' rotation 06/26/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 6:22am]
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