07/18/08 7:22 PM ET
Kazmir to start Monday; Reyes activated
Cautious Rays decide to give left-handed ace another day
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Kazmir threw 104 pitches on Sunday before tossing an additional 14 during Tuesday night's epic All-Star Game, and the Rays want to exercise caution with their ace.
During Thursday's team practice, manager Joe Maddon had said that there was a possibility of Kazmir starting Sunday afternoon's series finale vs. the Blue Jays, but the club opted to give the lefty another day of rest.
The move could pay dividends for Kazmir. Against Toronto, he is 3-4 with a 3.44 career ERA, while he's 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA against Oakland.
Matt Garza is slated for Saturday night -- Kazmir's original spot -- with Edwin Jackson getting Sunday's matinée start to wrap up the back end of the series with the Jays.
Kazmir may also be backed by a Rays bullpen at full throttle -- or, at least, close to it.
As expected, Al Reyes was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday, and Maddon said there are "no restrictions" on the right-hander, who was shelved for 30 games with right shoulder tendinitis.
Maddon also noted that Reyes threw back-to-back bullpen sessions, so he would have no qualms calling on the 38-year-old on consecutive days.
Closer Troy Percival's return is cloudier, as the veteran is notorious for pleading for his activation.
But he did throw 30 pitches to several Rays batters during Thursday's team practice, and Maddon is optimistic that he could rejoin the team relatively soon.
Percival -- serving his second DL stint this season with a nagging left hamstring strain -- reported no problems applying pressure to his leg on Thursday night.
"I worked myself into it the first six or seven pitches, and then I wasn't even thinking about," he said.
Maddon said "you could tell by his face" that Percival wasn't in pain, but he wants the Rays' medical staff to give the veteran the green light.
Percival was slated to be evaluated sometime on Friday, and the Rays should have a more definitive timetable by Saturday.
In the meantime, even with Reyes back, Maddon plans to continue the Rays' closer-by-committee approach.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.