Kazmir has solid mound session
Next rehab step for left-hander is throwing batting practice
ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir's rehab continued to stay on track, as the lefty breezed through Saturday morning's mound session at Raymond A. Naimoli Minor League Complex in St. Petersburg.
"I was letting it go pretty nice" said Kazmir, who reported to be in no pain after throwing. "I was throwing my changeup, throwing my slider, that's the first time we've done that in the bullpen in a while."
The lefty threw approximately 10-12 changeups and 10-12 sliders during the 60-pitch session, and appears to be headed in the right direction.
Kazmir suffered a left elbow strain on Feb. 25 and currently is on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21. The move makes him eligible to be activated as early as April 5.
Although Kazmir didn't comment specifically on whether he would be available for the April 29 series in Baltimore, he did say that there is a possibility of his timetable being accelerated.
"We'll see; we have a couple things in place right now that we could maybe cut out," he said.
Up next, Kazmir is scheduled for a batting practice session that will "more than likely" happen on Tuesday at the Rays' Tropicana Field. If all goes well, the Rays could elect to skip his second batting practice in favor of a Minor League start.
Kazmir said if that happens, he will likely pitch two innings, or approximately 30 pitches, in a controlled situation.
But the Rays have been almost excruciatingly patient in Kazmir's recovery, and all plans with their No. 1 starter remain tentative.
"We're not going to really talk about cutting it [the second BP] out until the actual day comes. ... We'll see how it goes," Kazmir said.
For now, Kazmir will continue to stay on his set schedule and "play it by ear" every day.
However, the Rays ace is confident it won't be much longer before he is back on the mound full-time.
"I just got to get my innings in," Kazmir said. "I've been watching every inning, every pitch [of the Rays' games] ... I'm starting to get antsy."
Fellow left-hander Kurt Birkins also worked out on Saturday morning, throwing off the mound and in his first batting practice since being diagnosed with left elbow neuritis earlier this spring.
Birkins, who is also on the 15-day DL, reported to be feeling fine after throwing, and will continue to focus on improving his stamina. Birkins' exact schedule has yet to be announced.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.