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Maddon to stick with Kazmir

Maddon to stick with Kazmir

ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir will make his next scheduled start, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Thursday, but there are ongoing discussions about whether to make a change in the current starting rotation.

After the Rays' beleaguered left-hander struggled through another start Wednesday night, there has been clamoring about bringing up one of Tampa Bay's top young arms from the Minor Leagues, notably David Price.

"We're evaluating everything," Maddon said. "Yesterday with [Kazmir], it was just unfortunate. We've been trying so many things to help him out, whether it's physical, conversational, whatever you want to call it. It's been very difficult. We're just evaluating everything right now."

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Price, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft who had dazzling performances for the Rays in last year's American League Championship Series and World Series out of the bullpen, is 1-4 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Durham. He threw five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts against Rochester on May 17.

Kazmir maintains he is perfectly healthy and just dealing with mechanical and confidence issues. Against Oakland on Wednesday, he allowed seven runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings -- his second successive outing with seven runs allowed.

The two-time All-Star, who started Game 1 of the World Series last year, has a 7.69 ERA, 1.95 WHIP and .316 opposing batting average this season.

"It's really frustrating out there, when you feel like you're completely healthy and you're just fighting yourself," Kazmir said after Wednesday's start.

Naturally, there has been some speculation about whether Maddon will pull the trigger by bringing up a young arm to help his starting rotation. The Rays' starters have a combined ERA of 5.39 this season.

Despite his impressive debut in the playoffs last season, Price, the 6-foot-6 left-hander out of Vanderbilt, was assigned to begin the season in the Minors to monitor his progress and restrict his innings. He was initially put on a 75-pitch leash, and it's clear the Rays are being very careful with their prized top prospect.

Meanwhile, two other young pitching prospects are having good starts to their seasons in Durham: right-hander Wade Davis and left-hander Carlos Hernandez. Davis, 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA, was rated the Rays' No. 3 overall prospect last season by Baseball America.

It might be only a matter of time before one, two or all three get called up to the big leagues.

"With David, we've always talked about when David's ready, that's when he's going to be here," Maddon said. "When Davis is ready, that's when Davis should be here. You auger out spots at those particular moments for people like that."

Maddon wanted to make clear that he hasn't given up hope that Kazmir can turn things around this season, though. As concerning as the dip in velocity, lack of command and wavering confidence has been, Maddon said Kazmir will make his next scheduled start at Cleveland on Monday, and the team will continue to help him work through his problems before it decides to make any rotation changes.

"It's an ongoing discussion, we're talking about different topics," Maddon said. "Our main concern is just to get [Kazmir] right."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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