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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir says cramp "completely minor"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — LHP Scott Kazmir pitched very well Saturday. The problem was the cramps in his left forearm that prohibited him from pitching more than six innings.

Kazmir said the problem stemmed from dehydration, that he felt much better after getting IV fluids and he was sure he would make his next start Thursday in Chicago.

"It's completely minor," Kazmir said. "Everything's fine now; everything feels really good. Five days from now, I should be perfectly fine."

Manager Joe Maddon said he was caught off-guard but that he has no concerns. "He's doing well," Maddon said. "He should be fine for his next start."

Kazmir said he felt some tightness earlier in the game — played on a cool night — and drank some fluids, but it stiffened up before he went out for the seventh. It took only a few practice tosses, not even pitches, to know he couldn't continue, and he waved Maddon and assistant trainer Paul Harker to the mound.

Kazmir was effective during his six innings, mixing his slider, changeup and fastball, allowing only four hits, though with four walks.

"I felt really good about his strike-throwing," Maddon said. "The delivery was consistent, a real good tempo. That's what we've been looking for."

Time to dominate: RHP Matt Garza is tired of talking about it, tired of thinking about it, tired of theorizing about it.

Starting with today's game, he just wants to do it.

"I've got to start taking control," Garza said. "I've got to start getting people out and dominating. That's it. I'm capable of it. I see other people do it. And I'm tired of asking questions why am I not.

"This break gave me a lot of time to think about it, and why I'm not is because I'm not. I need to go out there and start putting a run together. You see a lot of guys on runs, and I've been saying where's mine; when's mine coming. Well, I'm going to make mine come. And that's just by going out there and being aggressive and getting back to what I do best, and that's going after guys."

Garza's frustration isn't unwarranted. The 25-year-old has some dazzling numbers, including a .224 opponents' average that is the AL's third best; 102 strikeouts, which rank eighth; and a respectable 3.73 ERA after allowing three or fewer runs in 13 of his 18 starts.

But he has a losing record, at 6-7, and the Rays are only 8-10 in his starts.

Handyman: The improvement DH Pat Burrell has shown at the plate, including another big hit Saturday, came because of a correction to his swing required after he developed bad habits as a result of his neck injury, Maddon said.

"He's using his hands a whole lot better," Maddon said. "You don't see as much pushing the bat through the strike zone as seeing the bat head snapping through the zone."

HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE: CF B.J. Upton was one of four players who joined 1B coach George Hendrick for his return visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Saturday. "It's just amazing what they went through and the things they dealt with," Upton said. "It definitely makes you appreciate what we've got today."

CATCHING ON: C Dioner Navarro was fine after getting through Friday's game, his first since being struck on the mask July 11. But Maddon opted to stick with the plan to rest him Saturday and Monday, on alternate days, at least through Monday.

CATCHING UP: RHP Grant Balfour was up in the air for days — literally — in going from Tampa to Australia (via Dallas and Los Angeles) for his grandfather's funeral then to Kansas City (via Los Angeles and Denver) within five days.

The trip to Kansas City took about 22 hours, and Balfour came straight to the stadium Friday, meaning he was awake for most of 34 hours. After a good night's sleep Friday, he pitched Saturday in relief of Kazmir.

MISCELLANY: The Royals gave out figurines of former manager (and Florida State star and coach) Dick Howser as part of brain cancer fundraising night. … Kansas City's Zack Greinke lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.08.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir says cramp "completely minor" 07/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, July 19, 2009 7:54am]
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