Notes: Kazmir's innings count monitored

Notes: Kazmir's innings count monitored

ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir will make his 24th start of the season Tuesday against the Rangers.

Had Kazmir not spent time on the disabled list with inflammation in his left rotator cuff, he would be on track to hit 200 innings, which is a goal of the 22-year-old southpaw.

Kazmir pitched 186 innings in 2005 and has 138 2/3 under his belt in 2006. Last week, Rays manager Joe Maddon had a meeting with Mike Butcher, the pitching coach, and Andrew Friedman, the executive vice president of baseball operations, to discuss the pitching staff and the number of innings they have thrown. Afterward, Maddon said Kazmir and right-hander James Shields were the two they were monitoring the closest. In other words, they do not want Kazmir or Shields to exceed a certain number of innings pitched.

"Whatever way [Maddon] chooses will be fine with me," Kazmir said.

While Kazmir will be the good soldier no matter what decision is made, he expressed his desire to at least pass his innings total from 2005.

"I think that the more innings I get now might make it easier on me in the years that follow," Kazmir said.

Kazmir is looking forward to pitching in September.

"Normally, it feels like I always get stronger [toward the end of the season]," Kazmir said.

Kazmir went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in five starts last September, holding opposing hitters to a .204 average.

Seo a question mark: Right-hander Jae Seo had to leave his Sunday start when he again encountered problems with his left groin.

Seo is scheduled to pitch again Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore.

"I want to throw Friday," Seo said. "But I don't know. ... In my mind I'm OK."

Seo is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, but Maddon sounded a little skeptical about the right-hander's chances.

"We'll know something [about Seo's chances of starting Friday] tomorrow," Maddon said. "He's going to want to pitch. ... You really have to be careful with him."

Wigginton progressing: Ty Wigginton took swings off a tee Monday and later took ground balls at third base.

Wigginton fractured the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand after getting hit by a pitch by Shawn Chacon in the Rays' July 29 game against the Yankees. The Rays have missed Wigginton's bat in the lineup; he is hitting .267 with a career-high 18 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Wigginton now sports a beard and a waistline reduced by six pounds, accomplished through rigorous workouts.

"The beard is worth five home runs and 20 RBIs," Maddon said.

Super C.C.: Carl Crawford went 14-for-23 (.609) over the past week, with six RBIs and seven stolen bases. His week's work hiked his average from .305 to .317 to tie him for 10th in the American League in batting. In addition, he was 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position, including the walk-off, two-run single with the bases loaded against the Indians on Friday night.

Crawford had back-to-back games -- Wednesday and Thursday against Toronto -- when he stole three bases. Luis Castillo was the last player in baseball to steal three bases in back-to-back games when he turned the trick in 2000 with the Marlins; Rickey Henderson was the last American League player to accomplish the feat when he did it for Toronto in 1993.

Crawford is hitting .391 (27-for-69) in August, which ranks third in the American League behind Boston's Manny Ramirez (.412) and New York's Bobby Abreau (.397). And, finally, Crawford is 11-for-11 in stolen bases since the All-Star break.

Arizona-bound: The following players will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the 2006 Arizona Fall League: SS Ben Zobrist, 1B Wes Bankston, OF Fernando Perez, RHP Jeff Niemann, LHP Jeff Ridgway, RHP Jeremy Flanagan and LHP Brian Henderson. The AFL begins its 32-game schedule Oct. 10.

This and that: B.J. Upton was back in the starting lineup Monday night after missing three games with a sore left shoulder. ... Right-hander Chad Harville was outrighted and released Monday. ... Jorge Cantu will not be in the starting lineup Monday or Tuesday. Maddon wants his second baseman to relax, which could help Cantu from pressing.

Coming up: The Rays and Rangers will play the second game of their four-game series Tuesday night in a 7:15 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Kazmir will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Vicente Padilla.

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