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Tightness returns, limits Scott Kazmir's effectiveness for Tampa Bay Rays

CHICAGO — Maybe Scott Kazmir would have been better off not pitching Thursday.

The residual tightness in his left forearm from last week's cramp returned as he was warming up, and he said he never felt comfortable during his six innings.

He felt worse after giving up a second-inning grand slam to No. 9 hitter Josh Fields — the first slam allowed in his career — besides being the "other guy" in Mark Buehrle's perfect game.

"I didn't feel good at all throughout the whole start," Kaz­mir said. "In the bullpen, once I started getting it going, started humping it up, (the arm) started getting a little tight.

"So it got to the game, and I'm just short-arming everything. That's why I feel like I didn't have the control I wanted or the velocity. I took the ball, so I did what I had to do; got as many outs as I could."

The tightness is a result of the cramp, and it's nothing Kazmir or the Rays say they are concerned about. Kazmir said he felt better after Thursday's game than he did Saturday, when he was forced to leave after six innings, and he expects to be 100 percent for his next start, Tuesday against the Yankees.

Kazmir said he didn't regret making the start because his arm felt fine Wednesday but once he went full-out, "you finally feel what it really feels like."

BULLPEN SHUFFLE: The Rays made the first of what might be several changes to their bullpen, calling up RHP Dale Thayer from Triple-A Durham after putting RHP Chad Bradford on the disabled list.

They're expecting to make another move by Monday, when LHP Brian Shouse should be ready to come off the DL, and are exploring trade options in advance of the looming July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals.

Bradford warmed up but wasn't able to pitch Wednesday due to back stiffness, and he said he might have felt worse Thursday morning.

"It just locked up," he said. "I can't move like I need to move."

Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays hope he'll be out only the minimum 15 days, but Bradford said it's too early to say. Back problems led to surgery for herniated discs in 2000 and 2005.

"This is kind of one of those in-between things," said Bradford, 34, who spent the first half of the season recovering from elbow surgery. "The two times I had surgery, I knew I was blown out and done. This is more like a little hiccup or a bump in the road where you've got to take some time off and deal with it. But hopefully, it doesn't lead to anything worse than that."

Thayer, 28, pitched three times for the Rays during a late May call-up, getting a save in his debut and compiling a 5.06 ERA. He was an All-Star at Triple A with a 2.01 ERA and 14 saves.

Thayer — who has shaved the mustache that garnered so much attention during his last stint — said he is throwing better now than during his first call-up even though he has been allowing more hits. Maddon said he expects better results with plans to use Thayer in short- and multi-inning roles.

"I think he'll be even more comfortable this time around," Maddon said.

Shouse, out since late May with an elbow strain, pitched a perfect inning (with one strikeout) Thursday for Class A Charlotte. If all goes as planned, he'll pitch again tonight, be off Saturday and Sunday and activated Monday.

TRADE WINDS: There was more trade speculation about the Rays — and there will continue to be until the deadline — given their dogged efforts to explore all possibilities, however realistic or far-fetched.

Some of the latest: a Fox Sports report that the Rays are looking to involve a third team in talks for Indians LHP Cliff Lee (to offer more than RHP Wade Davis), an SI.com tweet that they are interested in Indians C Victor Martinez and varied chatter about Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls.

HOUSE CALL: The Rays will be the guests tonight for what might be Roy Halladay's last start in Toronto as a Jay, and they know between the number of scouts and the amount of emotion that will be around the Rogers Centre, it's going to be different.

"It should be an interesting day," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: 2B Ben Zobrist's 12-game hitting streak, obviously, came to an end. … The Sox won the season series 6-2. … RHP Andy Sonnanstine allowed two runs on six hits and one walk and struck out four over six innings for Durham, his first start after being on the DL with mono since July 11.

Tightness returns, limits Scott Kazmir's effectiveness for Tampa Bay Rays 07/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 8:59am]
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