Notes: Rough ride for Rays

Notes: Rough ride for Rays

BOSTON -- After taking a 9-1 loss to the Rangers in Arlington in a rare Sunday night game, the Devil Rays boarded the team charter and headed to Boston. The plane landed at approximately 5:30 a.m. ET on Monday, which meant that most players did not get to bed until 6:30 or 7.

Greg Norton, who is not a fan of flying anyway, couldn't sleep on the plane.

"We just kind of sat on top of the clouds and bounced around," said Norton, who didn't even try to sleep.

The veteran ordered room service once he got to his hotel room, then fell asleep, only to be awakened by a fire alarm inside the team hotel at 9 a.m.

"I didn't get out of bed," he said. "I heard the fire trucks coming a little later. But I didn't smell any smoke or see anything, so I didn't get out of bed. ... We could have done without the message that it was a false alarm."

Jonny Gomes, like most of the Rays players, also heard the alarm.

"I didn't even budge," Gomes said. "It was going to take a visual of flames or smoke to get me out of that room."

Manager Joe Maddon had other ideas, as he explained with tongue firmly planted in cheek: "When the Red Sox turn on the alarm at [9] in the morning and the team gets in at 6 o'clock, it's one of the oldest American League tricks in the book."

Norton remembered having worse trips during his career.

"You always have one of these a year," he said. "I remember an Anaheim night game, [flying] to Baltimore, playing the next night. That was a later arrival than this was. [Another time] we went from the West Coast to Pittsburgh, getting in around 7. But a lot of guys are able to sleep on the plane. ... It's rare, and you're inconvenienced for a day."

Norton managed to find a positive in that the Rays experienced just one time-zone change, noting that the big time-zone changes "are the ones that will kill you."

Kaz against the Sox: Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays on Tuesday night against the Red Sox, a team he has done well against. The left-hander has a 5-3 record with a 2.55 ERA in 13 career appearances against the AL East-leading Red Sox.

"With him, it's probably something internal," Maddon said. "He really gets keyed up for these guys. I mean, throughout your career, there's always a team you do really well against and teams you don't do so well against. And sometimes you do better against the good teams."

Kazmir has done particularly well against Boston sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Ortiz has a lifetime .156 average against Kazmir, with one home run and four RBIs, and Ramirez has a .118 career average with one home run and one RBI.

"You've got to change it up against those guys," said Kazmir when asked about his approach against the Red Sox heavyweights. "You've got to see what pattern you're throwing. Try to mix it up a little bit. Those guys are unbelievable hitters, so you know they're going to get theirs."

Kazmir, who has put together six consecutive quality starts, says that his confidence is at a career peak.

"I feel like I'm able to throw the ball where I want to," he said. "Now I feel like I can set up hitters instead of just throwing it by them."

Kazmir posted six scoreless innings against the Red Sox the last time he faced them, picking up a no-decision on July 29 in a 5-2 Rays win at Tropicana Field.

Baldelli update: Rocco Baldelli (left hamstring strain) is getting close to being ready for a rehab assignment.

"He's running well," Maddon said. "The times to first base are good. ... And [his legs are] the biggest concern. His bat's going to be fine, his arm's going to be fine."

Where Baldelli's rehab assignment will take place is yet to be determined. And as of now, the team has not talked about trying him at first base.

"When you put an inexperienced first baseman out there, that jeopardizes your infielders, also," Maddon said. "It takes them out of their comfort zone, too. So it's not just about Rocco playing first base."

This and that: Maddon likes Josh Paul catching Kazmir and Edwin Jackson, which translates to Paul starting on Tuesday and Dioner Navarro behind the plate on Wednesday afternoon. ... The Rays have opened the "Baseball Carnival" at Tropicana Field, which will be open to kids of all ages during home games. ... Dick's Sporting Goods will host "Shop with a Jock" on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its Citrus Park Town Center location. James Shields, Brendan Harris and Gomes will have lunch with approximately 40 children from the Hillsborough Boys & Girls Clubs. Afterward, the players will assist the children during a shopping spree at the store. Dick's will provide each child with a $100 gift card.

Up next: Kazmir will start for the Rays on Tuesday in the second game of the three-game series against the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Jon Lester will start for Boston.

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