Notes: Kazmir's big night

Notes: Kazmir's big night

ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir's first complete-game shutout of his career on Monday night was the 14th complete-game shutout in Devil Rays team history. He became the 10th Rays pitcher to turn the trick, joining Joe Kennedy and Mark Hendrickson; Kennedy is the only pitcher in club history to throw a one-hitter (May 2, 2003).

Furthermore, Kazmir's gem was the sixth complete-game shutout by a Rays pitcher at Tropicana Field and the first since Doug Waechter and Jorge Sosa tossed back-to-back complete-game shutouts in September 2003 vs. the Mariners.

Kazmir became the youngest pitcher to reach 10 wins by July 3 since John Smoltz did it in 1989. Smoltz got his 10th win with the Braves on July 2 at 22 years, two months, while Kazmir is 22 years, five months. Only five other pitchers since 1969 have reached 10 wins as fast as Kazmir at a younger age: Smoltz, Greg Maddux (1989), Vida Blue (1971), Bert Blyleven (1973), Dwight Gooden (1985) and Wayne Simpson (1970).

Catcher Josh Paul said Kazmir's beauty was "as good as I've caught."

"I've caught a couple of shutouts, but that was the most dominant one I thought," Paul said.

Paul recalled the performances he's caught that were closest to Kazmir's.

"A shutout by James Baldwin when I was younger with the White Sox, against the Red Sox as a matter of fact, at Fenway," Paul said. "Mark Hendrickson threw a nice one [earlier this season at Baltimore]. The other one that I caught that would probably compare [would be when Kerry Wood allowed just three hits in a game three years ago.] He did that with back spasms. That was unbelievable. And it was the same thing [as Kazmir on Monday night]. He pitched out of one bases-loaded jam early in the game and the rest of the game he just shut them down."

Paul said Kazmir's changeup was his best pitch on Monday night.

"He was throwing it for strikes all day," Paul said. "They couldn't put in play hard at all. They couldn't put a whole lot in play hard. If they took it, it was a strike, if they swung, they missed."

Paul summed up Kazmir's performance by saying, "That's what catchers live for is to go out and have a night like that."

Hamilton speaks: Josh Hamilton, who just had his suspension lifted from Major League Baseball for substance abuse, addressed the media during a news conference on Tuesday prior to playing for Class A Hudson Valley in his first game since 2002.

"There's no way I should be in the shape I am in as much as I abused my body unless God wanted it to be that way," Hamilton said. "I was down to 180 now I'm at 230. My injuries are all better. I am not worried about breaking down soon."

Hamilton said he was confident about being able to come back.

"Ask me a year ago and I don't know what I would have said," Hamilton said. "Right now, yes. You've got to have a positive attitude. My father-in-law says you've got to build momentum. That first day here [Sunday] when everything went wrong [lost luggage, canceled flight, missed plane], I didn't get mad about that. Those things happen in life. I would have before. I didn't know how to handle that before."

Hudson Valley manager Matt Quatraro said he told the team to let Hamilton live in the present.

"I had the chance to know Josh before, and I could tell [the team] that I knew he was going to fit in," Quatraro said. "He has the same dreams and aspirations that all of them have, it's just that Josh's life took a different turn. Once he's in the clubhouse he draws everyone into him."

Time for manager's to quit picking: Over the years, many a manager has belly-ached about having to pick players for the All-Star Game. Rays manager Joe Maddon believes the players should choose.

"I think it would make it a lot easier," he said. "I like the idea of the players voting exclusively. I really do. And they vote for the first team and then you just go down the pecking order for the rest of the team.

"I still believe when you are recognized by your peers, that is the highest compliment you can receive. If I'm a player, and I know my peers had voted me to be there, I think as a player I'd want to be there even more. Not denigrating the fan voting at all. I think in any occupation when your peer acceptance is there. That is actually the highest compliment."

Rocco art raffle: Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli explored the world of art during his extended stay on the disabled list. Using a sunflower for a stylus, Baldelli created the likeness of three of his teammates -- Mark Hendrickson, Julio Lugo, and Toby Hall -- on the side of Styrofoam cups. Baldelli donated the cups to the Arts Center in St. Petersburg, a non-profit organization, which will raffle them during the next three homestands. Raffle tickets are $5 and all proceeds will benefit the Arts Center.

Minor League monthly honors: Class A Visalia shortstop Reid Brignac and right-hander Juan Salas were named Rays Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Brignac batted .398 (35-for-88) with six doubles, seven home runs and 20 RBIs, hitting safely in 21 of 22 games. Salas went 2-0 with a pair of saves in 11 games combined between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, throwing 17 innings of scoreless relief. Opponents batted just .177 (11-for-62); he struck out 24 while walking just four.

This and that: Rudy Lugo will report to Class A Visalia on Wednesday to finish his rehab from a mid-back strain and is scheduled to rejoin the team in Anaheim after the All-Star Game. ... Damon Hollins and his fiancée are the proud parents of a baby girl, who was born Monday in Fairfield, Calif.; Hollins is expected back Wednesday. ... Right-hander Shinji Mori made 25 tosses from 45 feet Monday, which was the first time he's thrown since suffering a labrum tear in his right shoulder March 22. ... Russell Branyan has two more home runs (10) than singles (8), the only position player in the Major Leagues who can make that claim.

Up next: The Rays and Red Sox will meet for the third game of their four-game series Wednesday in a 7:15 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Tim Corcoran will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Jason Johnson.

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