MIAMI — David Price is on the way. Scott Kazmir is on the sideline. And Troy Percival is on the verge of retirement.
A whirlwind day of transactions for the Rays, before Friday night's 15-2 whipping of the Marlins, yielded a significant amount of change.
Price, the hotshot prospect, will get promoted from Triple-A Durham and take the place of struggling Kazmir, who was placed on the disabled list for an open-ended period to rehabilitate a right quadriceps strain and repair his damaged mechanics.
And the bullpen will be without a true closer — which means all relievers will be considered for duty based on matchups and availability — in the absence of Percival, who went home to California to contemplate calling it quits, frustrated by a sore arm and overall ineffectiveness. "I wouldn't be surprised if he chooses not to come back," manager Joe Maddon said.
Price, 23, will be welcomed back. Last year's postseason sensation was sent to Triple A to work on his pitches and pitch efficiency while working under strict pitch limits. His last outing — five no-hit innings, nine strikeouts — apparently was convincing enough (he is 1-4 with a 3.93 ERA overall), and he is set to join the Rays, possibly for good, and start Monday in Cleveland.
When Kazmir, 25, will pitch again is not known, but he will almost certainly be out more than the minimum two weeks, and possibly months.
Maddon said the Rays are in "no rush" and talked about "working him back through it slowly." Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they "want to take a step back and go through this the right way" and they "won't cheat the process."
The quad strain, which first surfaced during a May 9 start in Boston and required previously undisclosed between-innings treatment, is the result of Kazmir's bad mechanics. Kazmir said the mechanics problem started last season as he returned from an elbow injury and pitched in "protect the elbow" mode, which led him to also develop bad habits.
Now the Rays want to get his leg well, then essentially rebuild his mechanics, which they blame for a noticeable drop in his velocity and resulting performance (4-4, 7.69 ERA).
"Once we feel the quad is fine and we can get him back on the mound, then it's going through drills to get his delivery back to where it was (in 2007)," Friedman said, "and going through that enough to make it muscle memory to where, when he's on the mound, he's not thinking through each point of his delivery and going through checkpoints. Rather, it's muscle memory, and he can go back to throwing."
Kazmir said his arm feels "completely healthy," and it's just a matter of his body relearning the form, and muscle memory, he had, which was noticeably different in side-by-side video comparisons.
"It's more of me getting back to my old self where I'm really getting through the ball and not favoring anything," Kazmir said. "From what (Brian Anderson, assistant to the pitching coach) and I have talked about, it's something very small that could be fixed very quickly."
Percival, 39, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, having gone 0-1 with six saves and a 6.35 ERA in 14 games. He told team officials after Thursday's rough outing that his arm had been sore since Sunday. He told his agent, Paul Cohen, his shoulder was so numb, he couldn't locate his pitches. "He said, 'I'm not going to do that to my teammates,' '' Cohen said. "He said, 'I can't pitch like that.' ''
Friedman said Percival was "extremely frustrated"; Maddon used the word "distraught.'' Percival, who came back from extensive offseason back surgery, will take the weekend to be with family, Friedman said, "to clear his head, see where he is physically, see where he is mentally" and then let the Rays know his plans. He is eighth on the all-time saves list with 358.
"There's only so much you can do when you get to be that age," Maddon said. "He's tried everything possible to put himself back together to be not just functional but a very big contributor to us, and he's just not feeling he can be that right now."
For now, the Rays called up right-hander Dale Thayer and infielder Reid Brignac.