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Tampa Bay Rays' Scott Kazmir gets advice from former Mets pitching coach

DENVER — LHP Scott Kazmir's route back to the big leagues included a three-day side trip to New York to consult with former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.

Kazmir wanted Peterson, who worked with him when he was a Mets prospect, to analyze a biomechanical study and help him with specific drills to maintain his proper mechanics. "I felt like I wanted to go back to some of those drills," Kazmir said Tuesday night by phone from Tampa. "He gave me drills to improve on the results I've gotten. Everyone is happy with what's going on."

The Rays sent Kazmir to Dr. James Andrews' facility in Birmingham, Ala., for a biomechanical analysis as part of the effort to correct his form. Kazmir wanted Peterson's input because of his expertise in that area and went to see him on his own. The Rays were aware of the trip.

"Scott has a long-standing relationship with Rick and he wanted to reach out to him regarding the biomechanics study we conducted," executive VP Andrew Friedman said.

Kazmir said his consultation with Peterson, who is currently a freelance instructor, is not an indication of anything lacking in his relationship with Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or their staff.

"Nothing negative at all," Kazmir said. "And it's not like I was going behind anybody's back; everyone was on the same page."

Kazmir said he is just trying to do everything he can to get back to pitching well for the Rays: "That's what we're all trying to do."

Kazmir makes the first of two planned rehab starts tonight for Class A Charlotte, scheduled for about 65 pitches. He is set to move to Triple-A Durham on Monday and then be re-evaluated, with the possibility he could rejoin the Rays by the end of next week.

There was some irony to Kazmir's visit. At the time of the July 2004 trade, Peterson was portrayed in media reports as pushing the Mets to deal Kazmir because he could fix Victor Zambrano, the pitcher they got back "in 10 minutes."

STAR-GAZING: 3B Evan Longoria remains the top AL vote-getter with about 2½ weeks left in the balloting. Longoria has a lead of about 35,000 over Yankees SS Derek Jeter, 1,957,380 to 1,921,768, in results released Tuesday.

The only other Ray who appears to have a chance to be elected a starter is Carl Crawford, who is fourth among OFs, trailing Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki 1,069,599 to 902,105. Boston's Jason Bay and Texas' injured Josh Hamilton are 1-2.

SS Jason Bartlett is a distant second to Jeter. Carlos Peña is not among the top five first basemen.

DRAFT BREEZE: Talks with No. 1 draft pick OF LeVon Washington remain in the preliminary stages a week after the draft. "We have started the process," Friedman said.

No. 2 pick SS Kenny Diekroeger said he plans to come to St. Petersburg for a meeting in a few weeks. No. 3 pick CF Todd Glaesmann said his adviser will talk to the Rays at the end of this week.

The team did sign 14 lower-round picks, topped by eighth-round CF Brett Nommensen of Eastern Illinois.

Also signed, by round: No. 12 RHP Andrew Bellatti, No. 13 RHP Hunter Hill, No. 14 RHP Zachary Quate, No. 16 2B Tyler Bortnick, No. 22 LHP Jake Sullivan, No. 26 SS Daniel Rhault, No. 29 LF Gabe Cohen, No. 31 LHP Aaron Dott, No. 34 SS Kyle Spraker, No. 39 LHP Daniel April, No. 42 3B Bennett Davis, No. 47 OF Jason Patton, No. 50 C David Wendt.

MISCELLANY: The bullpen's scoreless streak ended at 25 innings when Winston Abreu gave up a run in the ninth. … Bartlett singled in his first at-bat after missing 19 games with a left ankle sprain, extending his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 11 games. … RHP Chad Bradford is a week or so away from rejoining the Rays, moving his rehab from elbow surgery to Triple-A Durham. … INF Joe Dillon was trying on catcher's gear in the clubhouse — "just in an emergency," he said. … Performance consultant (sports psychologist) Ken Ravizza joined the team. … Joe Maddon's All-Star coaches will be named today.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays' Scott Kazmir gets advice from former Mets pitching coach 06/16/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:49am]
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