03/09/08 5:05 PM ET
Kazmir ready to throw bullpen session
Ace left-hander could make Spring Training debut on Saturday
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The Rays left-hander made 60 throws on Sunday. On Monday, he will take the mound for the first time since Feb. 26, when he felt discomfort in his elbow just before starting an intrasquad game at the Raymond A. Naimoli Baseball Complex.
"I did a little flat-ground work, threw a couple of changeups, a couple of sliders, felt great," Kazmir said. "I thought I was maybe going to be a little tentative with it, but I was throwing through everything."
If all goes well on Monday, Kazmir will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, then will likely pitch against the Yankees on Saturday.
"Everything is on task. He's feeling really good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "[He's] ready to go, absolutely."
Kazmir expects to throw 30 to 35 pitches on Monday. A reporter teased Kazmir about being nervous for his bullpen session like he might be prior to a game, which prompted a smile from the 24-year-old southpaw.
"Seriously, I'll probably be pretty nervous," Kazmir said.
Maddon said it's still possible to get Kazmir on schedule to pitch Opening Day on March 31 against the Orioles in Baltimore.
"It's possible. I just want to see how he feels [on Monday], and then we get him into a game, see how far we can get him stretched out pitch-wise, etc.," Maddon said. "That's still an important issue to be determined as he pitches. It's possible. I'm leaving the possibility out there that he can, but it's also possible that he can not. We just have to remain flexible with this. What's best for him and what's best for us [is what] we're going to do ultimately, so we just have to let it play out and see where it takes us."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.