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Kazmir continuing to twirl gems in Minors

Kazmir continuing to twirl gems

ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir is close to returning to the Rays, if Monday night's performance for Triple-A Durham is any indication.

Kazmir, who is recovering from a right quadriceps strain, allowed one run on five hits in six innings against Pawtucket.

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"[I] threw 77 pitches in six innings, which was pretty exciting for me," Kazmir said. "I think I got a lot more efficient as the game went on. The changeup was feeling really good. The slider had a lot of depth to it. My fastball had a lot of life. [There were] a lot of late swings, and it looked like they couldn't really pick it up as good. ... I wasn't thinking out there, I was just having fun."

Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Kazmir "pitched very well yesterday."

"We got a very good report," Friedman said. "[Rays' assistant pitching coach] Brian Anderson was there last night in Durham. We talked about it today, and we're going to talk more about it tomorrow to figure out which direction we're going to go."

According to Friedman, the plan calls for Kazmir to throw a bullpen session Wednesday.

"Once we get through that, we'll probably make a decision," Friedman said. "The encouraging thing is that he worked on his delivery, and all the things that we wanted him to focus on were great last night. He was great the start before that, so we're all very encouraged.

"All [his pitches] were very good -- 77 pitches in six innings was very encouraging. The overall command, the fastball command, the changeup was very good. He threw some very good sliders. Just about every aspect of his game was very encouraging."

Kazmir also made a start for Class A Charlotte and did not allow any runs and just three hits in 4 2/3 innings while on a limited pitch count.

"I'm happy with the outing," Kazmir said. "I'm happy with the line. For the most part, I'm just happy I have a little more life on the fastball. I'm pretty much just throwing good with my changeup and my slider.

"[It] feels like every start I'm getting a little stronger. It feels like I haven't used these muscles for a while. [It's] kind of like Spring Training, where I get some soreness that I haven't had in a while."

Nobody would say when Kazmir will be back with the Rays, but when speculating out loud with the left-hander, Kazmir said he would be ready if he were called back up at the end of the week.

"If that was available, sure, no doubt," Kazmir said.

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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