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Cautious Rays shelve Kazmir
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published September 19, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - In the eyes of Rays manager Joe Maddon, the only reason to activate All-Star pitcher Scott Kazmir from the disabled list with 12 games left in the season would be to give the 22-year-old a chance to gain confidence heading into the offseason.
Kazmir, sidelined since Aug. 22 with a sore shoulder, had his first throwing session in 10 days, making 40 pitches off flat ground before Monday's game. Following the Devil Rays' 4-1 loss to Baltimore, the team announced it was shutting down Kazmir for the remainder of the season.
"The only reason I did want him to pitch would be to make sure he felt good going into next season," Maddon said. "When you get stuck in ambiguities, it's never comfortable. So I really thought it was wise to just put an end to the madness and let's just do one thing or the other. The big thing is that he feels good about himself going into the offseason and he does, so I was good with that."
Kazmir said he felt "perfect" following his throwing session. A week of exercises to strengthen his left shoulder at the team complex went well. Before the game, Kazmir said he wanted to make a start before the season ended.
"I'd like to go out there and finish on a good note," Kazmir said.
Late last month, Kazmir landed on the DL for the second time since the All-Star break. After the game, Kazmir said he was fine with sitting out the remainder of the season, saying he was looking forward to beginning his offseason program early.
"We wanted to get to the point where we felt perfect out there," Kazmir said. "I didn't feel anything when I was throwing. The whole time, I didn't feel one thing. We got to that point. It's something where I feel I've gotten enough out of this year to take stuff into next year. You don't want to rush into it just to make that last start."
Kazmir finished with a 10-8 record and a 3.24 ERA. He made his first All-Star Game appearance, but the injury seemed to hinder him in the second half. He was 0-2 after the break, and his last win came June 22.
DISCUSSING THE FUTURE: Maddon said that he was planning to meet with executive vice president Andrew Friedman to discuss where the team is heading in the offseason during the Rays' final series in Cleveland the weekend after next.
Maddon said he'd like to discuss adding a veteran starter who could be a clubhouse presence to a team that has become much younger than it was at the beginning of the season.
TYLENOL, THE HEADACHE MEDICINE: Reliever Edwin Jackson was unavailable for the second straight game after he took a line drive off his head on Saturday in Toronto. Despite still suffering from off-and-on headaches, Jackson said he felt better, but he didn't know when he might pitch again.
"I'm just taking Tylenol," Jackson said. "That's my secret ingredient."
Maddon said the move is precautionary, and that Jackson should return to action within the next two days.
MINOR MATTERS: Class A Visalia lost the fifth and deciding game of the California League championship series against Inland Empire on Monday night, managing just five hits in a 2-1 loss. Oaks reliever Richard De Los Santos allowed a two-out, run-scoring double to Johan Limonta in the eighth inning that broke a tie at 1. The Oaks also failed to wrap up the series in Game 4 in an 8-2 loss Sunday. Visalia failed to join Rays Double-A affiliate Montgomery as league champions.
MISCELLANY: Delmon Young's eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest on the team this season and one shy of Rocco Baldelli's rookie record in 2003. ... Maddon said he'd prefer that the Yankees come to the Trop for a four-game series this weekend having already clinched the AL East. New York's magic number is three. ... Maddon said there was no update on the return of right-hander Travis Harper (right shoulder impingement), who has been on the DL since Aug. 3.