Mitchell High sensation Patrick Schuster will get to meet his favorite major-league pitcher Sunday when he throws out the first pitch before the Rays-Red Sox game, and LHP Scott Kazmir is excited about it.
"I want to sit down with him, talk to him and give him some advice and just see where he's at," Kazmir said. "Actually, I want to watch him pitch. I want to see how he throws the ball. Hopefully, we might be able to play some catch and I can ... check out of a couple of his pitches."
Schuster lost his bid for a fifth consecutive no-hitter Tuesday against Gaither. Kazmir didn't have his high school feats covered by ESPN, as Schuster has, but he had a stretch at Cypress Falls High in Houston during which he threw five no-hitters (three in a row) in six starts.
"It's amazing to do," Kazmir said of Schuster's run. "Especially with him being in Florida. It's good competition right there."
Kazmir, 3-1 with a 3.97 ERA, will try to match a club record for wins in April in tonight's series finale against the Twins. The 25-year-old lefty earned his 50th career victory with six shutout innings last Friday at Oakland and said he's "really close" to finding the comfort and rhythm with his mechanics that eluded him much of last year.
He has had only one outing reminiscent of last year's inconsistency, an 8-3 loss to the White Sox at home on April 18, in which he opened with 10 consecutive balls, walked six and allowed six runs in four-plus innings.
Aybar in for Burrell
DH Pat Burrell was a late scratch because of a stiff neck Tuesday night, and Willy Aybar took his place. Maddon said Burrell was available to pinch hit and is expected back in the lineup tonight.
"Pat's got a little bit of a stiff neck, and I would rather use him later in the game as opposed to using him in the beginning of the game and then having to take him out if it remains that way," Maddon said.
Aybar entered Tuesday batting .136, including .200 against lefties. The Rays were facing lefty Francisco Liriano.
RHP Jason Isringhausen (right elbow surgery) made his fourth rehab appearance Monday night for Double-A Montgomery. He allowed one earned run on two hits and walked one in an inning.
The former A's and Cardinals closer is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA and is moving up to Triple-A Durham. After one more "orchestrated" outing, the Rays plan to discuss having him do some regular work in the Durham bullpen.
And after that?
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Maddon said. "Baseball has this amazing way of answering its own questions."
Maddon said backup C Shawn Riggans, who has missed 17 games with right shoulder tendinitis, will likely get a minor-league rehab assignment before returning.
Riggans has been throwing without pain and will get a progression of work this week, Maddon said. If he continues to fare well, "you can start looking at making up one of those timetable sheets and getting him out to play," the manager said.
Bucs coach Raheem Morris will throw out the first pitch before Friday night's game against the Red Sox. ... After pitching to a 5.59 ERA in the first 13 games, the Rays bullpen had pitched to a 1.42 ERA in the seven games entering Tuesday. ... The Rays led the majors in infield hits with 25 entering Tuesday. Fifteen were from LF Carl Crawford (eight) and hot-hitting SS Jason Bartlett (seven), and they were 1-2 in the majors. ... Also entering Tuesday, the Rays' 24 steals after 20 games were the most by an AL team since the 1998 Yankees had 30.