Notes: Burroughs likely to get call

Notes: Burroughs likely to get call

ST. PETERSBURG -- Prior to Thursday's game with the Orioles, the Rays still had not filled the open spot on their roster created Wednesday, when starting third baseman Aubrey Huff was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a knee sprain.

"By tomorrow, we will have somebody," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Another player will be here by tomorrow. We're still playing one player short as of [Thursday night]. And [the player] could be [Sean] Burroughs, yes."

Burroughs suffered from back problems for most of Spring Training and began the season on the DL. Now that he's feeling better, he's been working out at the Raymond Naimoli Minor League Complex.

"I'm pretty close to getting out there," Burroughs said. "I've been over to the Minor League complex in the morning, standing in, getting at-bats. Live BP for about 75 pitches, five pitches and out against six different pitchers. So I'm just getting ready."

Burroughs said he has been able to exert himself during the workouts.

"Right now, I'm doing as much as I possibly can coming back from my back being jacked up," he said. "You kind of have to push a little bit, because now there's a little bit of a sense of urgency. Everyone's getting hurt and there aren't too many position players available."

Burroughs said he has been doing exercises to strengthen his back, and the results have been good.

"I feel strong, I feel good," Burroughs said. "Everything in my body feels great. I think with the injury bug going around, I need to get back out there as soon as possible."

Being No. 1: No. 1 starter Scott Kazmir will make his third start of the season for the Rays against the Royals on Friday night. The 22-year-old left-hander understands his role and hopes to pitch like a No. 1.

"I need to be the guy who comes in and puts us back on track or keeps a streak going," Kazmir said. "I'm up for the challenge. I want to be that guy."

Kazmir said he has not really felt the pressure of filling the slot.

"Because at the beginning, you get your jitters and you feel a little bit nervous because of Opening Day," Kazmir said. "You never know. You're not always going to face the No. 1 starter on the opposing team. It's not always the same. So it does feel like it's the same as last year pretty much -- like it's just going every five days and facing the hitters. You're facing the hitters, not the pitchers you're going up against."

Kazmir lost, 9-6, to the Orioles on Opening Day, but he recovered nicely Sunday by outdueling former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay to get the victory in a 5-2 Rays win.

Kazmir said his ability to work both sides of the plate was the big difference in his second outing.

"That was huge for me," Kazmir said. "People started cheating a little bit in, because that's all I was doing. I was pounding hard in. If they're looking at that, they can react on the slider a lot easier -- it's coming in, too. But if you're working both sides of the plate, you have them maybe lunging a little bit more. And it opens up the inner half and makes it a lot more effective. [That] helps out a whole lot -- makes it a lot easier for me to throw all of my pitches."

Kazmir went 8 2/3 innings against Toronto, thanks largely to Maddon's liberating pitch count rules, which Kazmir likes. Changing the mind-set of his pitchers was a motivation for the liberal pitch-count rules.

"What we've talked about is that pitchers today are trained to look at pitch count," Maddon said. "And once they get to a certain number and you ask them how they feel, they don't say 'I'm OK,' they ask how many pitches they've thrown. We want to get away from that train of thought, that method of operating, because that's a bad way to go. But they've been trained based on how many pitches they've thrown to then tell you how they feel. We want to take that away."

Maddon likes the idea of Kazmir emulating a No. 1 with his performance.

"It would be beautiful," Maddon said. "Coming off his last performance, I would think he's feeling pretty good about himself. I haven't really looked up how he's done against Kansas City in the past. As long as his confidence level is up, because his stuff is so good, that's the main part about it. We all do better when our confidence level is up."

Up next: The Rays will host the Royals in a 7:15 ET contest Friday night at Tropicana Field. Kazmir will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Scott Elarton.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.