Kazmir checks out

Rays ace's elbow isn't seriously hurt, but he'll rest for two weeks.

Published February 27, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - The news on Rays ace Scott Kazmir's left elbow appeared relatively good Tuesday night - no serious injury, but he's expected to be sidelined about two weeks, which makes it unlikely he'd be ready for the opening day start.

Kazmir, 24, walked off the mound Tuesday after feeling "a little discomfort" while warming up for an intrasquad game and ended up in an MRI machine at Dr. Koco Eaton's office. Kazmir said "it felt like it just jammed a little bit, kind of like a hyperextension."

Kazmir looked somber and downcast as he left the Rays training facility but said based on the initial evaluation by the Rays trainers he was optimistic the injury was not serious.

"It was just a little scary because I never felt it before," Kazmir said. "But after I talked with (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) and everything and we did some of the strength tests, I felt confident it would be all right."

Kazmir wasn't the only prized left-hander having problems Tuesday. Top draft pick David Price was scratched from his scheduled inning because of shoulder stiffness.

"I'll be all right," Price said. "It was just stiffness really, not sharp pain or anything. I couldn't really get it loose when I was in the pen, so I just said, 'Don't worry about it.'"

Kazmir said that there was no popping sound, which is usually indicative of a more serious injury, and that he had full motion and no pain afterward. "That's a good sign," he said. "They said there's a couple minor things that could go on that are just really nothing."

Kazmir has thrown well and looked good early in camp and said he "felt great" in the bullpen, but he sensed something was wrong on his third warmup pitch and "didn't want to test it."

"It all happened so quick," catcher Mike Difelice said. "In the warmup pitches, he was fine, looked real smooth, good energy, good life on the ball."

Manager Joe Maddon said sometimes a young pitcher who hasn't been hurt before doesn't know how to gauge what's wrong, so they have to wait until today to know how much of a setback it might be. "It's never a good feeling when one of the top pitchers in the league comes walking off the mound like that," he said.

Kazmir was scheduled to start Saturday's home exhibition opener and was on track for a third straight opening day start.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.