Rays place Kazmir, Zobrist on DL

Rays place Kazmir, Zobrist on DL

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- As anticipated, Scott Kazmir went on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, and he was joined by infielder Ben Zobrist.

Kazmir, who led the American League with 239 strikeouts last season, suffered a left elbow strain prior to an intrasquad game on Feb. 25. Zobrist fractured his left thumb on March 9, and X-rays taken on Monday confirmed that his hand would not be healed enough to allow him to break camp with the club.

The moves were made after Tuesday's 10-0 win over the Blue Jays and are retroactive to March 21, meaning that April 5 will be the earliest date either player can be eligible to return. Rocco Baldelli, who is suffering from a mallady that keeps him in a constant state of fatigue, also is expected to be placed on the DL prior to the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Kazmir continues to go through different workouts in the hopes he will be ready to pitch for the Rays in early April. He threw long toss at Progress Energy Park Tuesday morning before the team boarded a bus to play the Blue Jays at Knology Park.

"He threw today, tomorrow he's off," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We're trying to move him out to 120 feet by the end of this week."

Kazmir had been progressing nicely, but he was scratched from his first spring start on March 16. Kazmir and the Rays continue to maintain it's just a matter of taking an aggressive approach so when he does return, there will be no setbacks.

"Then next week, get him where he can actually work out on the mound," Maddon said. "So the rest of this week is a progression of throwing distances. And then next week we'll try and work toward getting him on the mound at some point.

"Right now, that's just how we mapped it out. [Pitching coach Jim Hickey] and [athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] sat down and gave it to me to look at also. It's kind of a conservative approach, but we definitely want to make sure he's fine."

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Maddon said Kazmir can alter the plan.

"If he progresses rapidly through this throwing experience, it could be accelerated somewhat," Maddon said.

Kazmir, who is the Rays' No. 1 starter, posted a 13-9 record with a 3.48 ERA in 2007. James Shields will fill Kazmir's slot until the left-hander returns.

Zobrist was the favorite to be the Rays' utility infielder until he suffered his injury.

With Zobrist unable to start the season as the Rays' utility man, the club will elect to keep either Elliot Johnson or Andy Cannizaro.

The final decision is expected to be made this week.

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