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Notes: Kazmir moved up in rotation

Notes: Kazmir moved up in rotation

ST. PETERSBURG -- Prior to Sunday's game, the Devil Rays announced they had decided to tinker with the order of the rotation.

For the Seattle series, the Rays will start Scott Kazmir, Casey Fossum and Jae Seo. For the series in Chicago that follows, they will start James Shields, Edwin Jackson and Kazmir against the White Sox.

Kazmir was intially slated to go in the second game of the Mariners series.

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"I just wanted to get Kaz back on five days' [rest]," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I wanted to get him normal. That convinced us to give Jackson one more side day before his next start. That worked out for us, actually."

The extra time will also allow Jackson to work on a few things after his disappointing outing Friday night.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey has "been working with him on several different things," Maddon said. "And it just presented the opportunity to do it with the day off. Looking at Kaz, I just think getting him on regular days of rest will be a better thing. We've had this day off thing going for a while. So now we're just going to flip him up and see if getting him on five gets him back to the sharpness he normally has."

Maddon called what is being addressed with Jackson "more of a mechanical kind of thing."

Jackson and Seo have been extremely inconsistent, which has led to some frustration when the team tries to get on a roll. Maddon pointed out the team had won four straight and was gaining momentum leading into Friday night's game when it got steamrolled early with Jackson on the mound.

"That vibe went away very fast," Maddon said. "You're looking for that consistency from the entire group [of starters] so you can build from it."

Gomes connects: Jonny Gomes hit a 393-foot solo home run to right-center field off Dontrelle Willis on Saturday night to account for his first home run of the season. The home run was his first since July 29 at Yankee Stadium and his first at Tropicana Field since July 4. Gomes had 14 home runs by May 19 in 2006.

"It was just great, not necessarily to get it off my back, but it had been a long time since I had hit a home run in a Major League game," Gomes said. "All of last year, and then the surgery ... any time you go under the knife, even if it wasn't the most serious surgery, you've got to come out of it. Luckily, I've come out of it on the upper end."

Gomes has had at least 20 home runs the past two seasons. Does he have 19 additional home runs in him this year?

"I hope so. I'll be swinging for it," Gomes said. "I just have to sit back and wait for my turn. Hopefully, everything works out well for everyone else -- we don't want any injuries to anybody. I'm itching to get my cuts and see what happens."

Sunday's lineup: Gomes started in left field when Carl Crawford was given the day off. Maddon likes to give Crawford a day off before the team has a day off, which the Rays do Monday, to give the speedster a two-day break. Second baseman B.J. Upton also had the day off, which caused Ty Wigginton to move to second base and Josh Wilson to fill in at third.

"B.J., I just wanted to give him a day," Maddon said. "He's been grinding pretty hard. Basically, the big thing is we just wanted to give Carl two days in a row."

Back to school: Kazmir will visit the classroom of first grader Brittney Eichorn at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Tampa on Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET. The visit is part of the "Take Kaz To Class" promotion sponsored by MetroPCS. This is the second year the Rays have teamed up with MetroPCS to have a student take a Rays player to their school. This year, Tampa Bay area students in grades K-8 were eligible to sign up at local MetroPCS store locations in Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties, as well as Tropicana Field Guest Services for the chance to "Take Kaz to Class." The promotion began on March 31 and ran through April 24.

This and that: Catcher Josh Paul wasn't available for Sunday's game after a home-plate collision in Saturday night's game left him with a sore left arm. Wigginton served as the team's emergency catcher. ... Right-hander Wade Townsend, who was the Rays' first-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, is back in action at Class A Columbus after a two-week stint on the disabled list. He allowed two runs on four hits in a six-inning stint that saw him strike out nine and walk none. ... The Rays have not yet submitted to Major League Baseball a plan for a new uniform design and name change, but they plan to do so by the May 31 deadline.

Up next: After an off-day Monday, the Rays will host the Mariners on Tuesday night in a 7:10 contest at Tropicana Field. Kazmir will start for Tampa Bay against Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn.

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

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