Notes: Pitch count frustrates Kazmir
After fixing mechanics, ace wants to go deeper into games
ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir is frustrated about how the Devil Rays are handling him in regard to limiting the number of pitches he throws.
"I understand it, but it's kind of at the point where you want to keep progressing," Kazmir said. "I want to be at least at the 200-inning mark for the future when we start winning some more games and we're actually in the hunt. That's the only frustrating part, if it's a close game you want to stay out there for our team, no matter what our record is."
Particularly frustrating for Kazmir is the fact he struggled with his mechanics early in the season, so his pitch count went high by the fifth or sixth inning. Yet now that his mechanics are square -- which his second-half numbers clearly indicate -- he has gotten pulled before going 100 pitches on several occasions. The left-hander would like to try and go deeper now that he feels like he's pitching better.
"Exactly," said Kazmir, who tossed 108 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in Monday's 6-0 loss to the Red Sox. "That's how it feels right now. I was kind of scuffling when I was throwing 115, 120 [pitches]. And now that it feels like everything is going well, they stop it at 91 or whatever."
Kazmir exceeded 100 pitches in 16 of his first 17 starts, but in his last 10 starts he has exceeded 100 pitches six times. His high pitch count for the season is 117 in a game, which he has done three times, most recently against the Yankees on July 13.
"It just frustrates me," Kazmir said. "It's kind of in my head. You come to the late innings and you always have to look at the pitch count. It's something where you just don't need it. You've got enough stuff going on; you don't need to be looking at the pitch count."
Kazmir said he has expressed his displeasure, but "they're kind of set on what's going on."
Rays manager Joe Maddon addressed Kazmir's frustration.
"This is becoming way more of an issue than it needs to be," Maddon said. "When we come down the road and we're in contention, two or three years from now based on our projections, he's going to get to pitch deep into these games and throw more pitches. But for now we totally believe this is the right thing to do and it makes the most sense."
Getting adjusted: Brendan Harris, who played shortstop for most of the first half, has been the regular second baseman for most of the second half as the Rays want to see if he might have what it takes to be the everyday second baseman, while also giving Josh Wilson a chance to show what he can do at shortstop.
Harris said the transition to second has been "pretty good."
"To be honest, since I've been over there I really haven't gotten that much action," Harris said. "I don't feel out of water or out of position, though."
"Long-term" appeals to Harris.
"You'd like to be a long-term guy anywhere, any place that needs you," Harris said. "But I think that would be huge if I could settle in and be there for a while, I'd love it."
Kudos to Rays scouts: Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was pleased with the organization's scouting department after the club signed 21 of its top 22 picks from the June 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"We're extremely pleased with how the Draft went for us," Friedman said. "[Scouting director] R.J. [Harrison] and [national cross checker] Tim Hough and all of our amateur scouts did a tremendous job this year."
Friedman pointed how important it is for a scout to properly assess the "signability" of a prospect.
"It takes a scout getting into a house and getting to know the family and the kid and getting an understanding of what it will take to sign and assessing that with his talent and recommending him to R.J.," Friedman said. "It's a complicated process that our guys did a tremendous job of."
Schilling a Rays Curt Schilling will be a free agent after the season, which might mean a new address for the veteran right-hander. According to a St. Petersburg Times blog, Schilling talked about how much he liked the Tampa Bay area during his Tuesday morning radio show on Boston's WEEI and noted he would consider playing for the Rays next season.
"It's one of those situations you'd certainly look at," he said.
Up next: The Rays will wrap up their three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Edwin Jackson will start for the Rays and he'll be opposed by right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.