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Tampa Bay Rays talking with pitcher Pedro Martinez

DENVER — Pedro Martinez is talking about the Rays, but they're not saying anything about the veteran pitcher.

And it still appears unlikely they'll be getting together anytime soon.

Martinez, 37, told the Associated Press on Wednesday in the Dominican Republic that he has had talks with the Cubs and the Rays and was close to a deal.

"There's a good chance I'll be signing soon, but there still isn't anything firm," Martinez said. "Chicago and Tampa Bay are the two teams that have shown the most interest, and we are negotiating with them, although I've told my agent not to call me until it's a done deal."

The Rays have talked with Martinez's agent and last week had Eddy Toledo, the director of their Dominican operations, watch Martinez throw. But it appears they are a long way from a deal. It's possible the right-hander could be talking up the possibility to get other teams interested.

Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman declined to comment, his usual policy on such matters. Agent Fernando Cuza had not returned calls from the Times.

HICKEY HAPPY: Pitching coach Jim Hickey acknowledged that it was unusual but said he had no problem with LHP Scott Kazmir consulting with former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.

"Whatever is going to help get him back to the form that he had before and is going to help us get back to where we want to be is fine by me," he said. "Whether it's internal, external, myself, a teammate or whatever.''

Kazmir said he wanted Peterson to look at his biomechanical study and provide some drills to help him keep his mechanics right. Kazmir said it wasn't an indication of any issues with Hickey or the Rays staff.

"(It's) a little bit unusual, a little bit unorthodox, but I'm not afraid of that. And I don't think we as an organization are afraid of anything that's a little bit out of the ordinary or out of the norm.," Hickey said. "But I don't think it's that big of a deal either, really."

RIGHT ON: Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn't lying when he said he last week he wouldn't use Pat Burrell in the outfield during the week of DH-less interleague games.

It's just that he hadn't seen Burrell's 11-for-16 career numbers vs. Colorado starter Aaron Cook, so he started him Wednesday in right, saying, "You just can't walk away from that.''

Burrell, who played 1,185 games in leftfield for the Phillies but none in right until Wednesday, caught both balls hit at him, went 1-for-4 and stole a base.

"Flawless,'' Maddon said.

Said Burrell: "I don't know if the tryout went well enough for me to get another opportunity, but hopefully it did.''

CYCLE POWER: It wasn't official, but the Rays had a "Gabe cycle" Tuesday, as Gabe Kapler had a single, triple and homer, and Gabe Gross, who replaced him in the lineup, had, after a scoring change, a double.

EVERYDAY JOE: Maddon had lunch with a group of four that bid $3,000 for the opportunity as a fundraiser for American Legion baseball in Cheyenne, Wyo. … Maddon visited during pregame with Ryan Meisinger, a wheelchair-bound 20-year-old Denver resident he met more than a decade ago during Arizona instructional league and has maintained contact.

MISCELLANY: Jason Bartlett — despite the loss of his extra-heavy Justin Morneau batting practice bat that Ben Zobrist broke — extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. … The Rays have hit seven homers in the first two games of the series, 17 in their eight games overall at Coors Field. … Kapler on Tuesday became the third Ray to homer in four straight games, joining Jose Canseco (five straight in 1999) and Julio Lugo (four in 2003). … Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria teamed for the Rays' fourth back to back homers of the season. … The game was played under a tornado watch.

Tampa Bay Rays talking with pitcher Pedro Martinez 06/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 18, 2009 7:47am]

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