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Kazmir to continue left-of-center thinking
Location has been a problem at times for Scott Kazmir this season. But when he takes the mound against the Royals tonight at Tropicana Field, he knows exactly where he's going to be - on the first-base side of the rubber.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 1, 2007
Rays starting pitcher Scott Kazmir delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
ST. PETERSBURG - Location has been a problem at times for Scott Kazmir this season. But when he takes the mound against the Royals tonight at Tropicana Field, he knows exactly where he's going to be - on the first-base side of the rubber.
The dozen or so inches he moved to his left Sunday made a huge difference in his performance as he beat the White Sox, and Kazmir said he will continue with what started as a brief experiment in his previous bullpen session.
"I really felt like I had something there," Kazmir said. "I'm going to keep working on it. It feels a lot more comfortable."
The biggest difference, Kazmir said, is the ability to finish his delivery better, the result of putting more of his body into his pitches, and to better locate his fastball.
"When I moved over there, the first two pitches felt like, 'Wow, I could just let it go,'" said Kazmir (3-2, 3.95 ERA). "On the third-base side, you're not really using your hips. On the first-base side, you can just throw. That's what it was like in the sixth or seventh inning (Sunday). I felt comfortable, and, you know what, I'm going to cut a couple loose and let it go a little bit."
Manager Joe Maddon said it's not unusual for pitchers to find success with that type of change, citing former Angels ace Chuck Finley, who would move back and forth on the rubber several times during a season.
"He'd move to one side, then he'd get spent on one side and move to the other, and then all of a sudden he'd find something," Maddon said.
In Kazmir's case, Maddon said, the view could have just as much to do with success as the location.
"He's probably seeing the hitter from a different angle and that in turn makes him do something with his wrist (at the end of his deliver)," Maddon said.
ON THE RUN: LF Carl Crawford has only stolen one base in his past 12 games, but Maddon said there is no specific reason for the slowdown.
"I know (other teams) are paying a lot of attention to him," Maddon said. "He's fine. He's healthy. My only advice to him is to keep shooting. Just like a scorer in basketball, even if you have a little bit of a slump shooting-wise, you keep shooting until you get it back. He just needs to get on first base and have those opportunities and the right matchups. He's on his own, and I trust him."
MISSING MAN: Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos will miss tonight's game for a good reason - his youngest daughter, Emily Nicole, is graduating from the University of Miami, with plans to go to medical school.
MISCELLANY: With Kazmir on the mound, Shawn Riggans will be behind the plate, as he was Sunday. ... With the top pick in next week's draft, Rays officials will discuss their plans in a media session today. Vanderbilt LHP David Price is expected to be their choice. ... OF Elijah Dukes led all AL rookies with nine extra-base hits (seven homers) and 15 RBIs in May. ... The Rays have been outscored 46-16 in first innings.