ST. PETERSBURG - An intrasquad game designed as a nice, easy test drive for the Rays took some unwelcome turns Tuesday.
Ace Scott Kazmir and top draft pick David Price were scheduled to pitch in the game at the Naimoli Complex, but both were scratched at the last minute.
Kazmir felt discomfort in his left elbow on his third warmup pitch before the inning he was scheduled to pitch, and he left the mound immediately. He said his elbow responded well to strength tests administered by Rays athletic trainer Ron Porterfield, but the team sent him to get an MRI exam Tuesday afternoon. Results are expected today.
Kazmir took an optimistic tack in a meeting with reporters before departing for team orthopedist Koco Eaton's office, but he was far from his usual upbeat self. He seemed shaken, talking quietly with teammates in the clubhouse after being examined by trainers.
"It was just a little scary because I've never felt it before," Kazmir said. "But after I talked with Ron and we did some strength tests, I felt confident that we'll be all right. Just got to check it out just to make sure."
Kazmir said he didn't feel anything pop - a common indicator of serious damage - and guessed he might have hyperextended it while warming up a bit too strenuously. He took it as a positive that the discomfort didn't linger. Not long after meeting with trainers, he said there was no pain.
"Not at all," he said. "That's a good sign."
Not knowing what was going on seemed to be the most difficult part for Kazmir, who navigated all of last year without any injury concerns after seeing his 2006 season truncated by shoulder problems.
"When you get a guy like that who's never really been hurt before, sometimes it's hard for them to gauge," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We'll just wait until today."
Maddon said he wasn't watching Kazmir warm up when the discomfort apparently occurred, but he didn't enjoy seeing him leave the field.
"It's not a good feeling," he said. "It's never a good feeling when one of the top pitchers in the league comes walking off the mound like that."
Price's situation didn't cause nearly as much concern. The 22-year-old's shoulder felt a bit stiff when he was warming up after sitting around for the early innings of the game, and the Rays told him not to take any chances. With two scheduled pitchers scratched, the game was shortened from seven innings to six.
Maddon said Price was "fine" and there was no reason to worry. He wasn't sure if the pitcher's workload would be adjusted, but said it would be discussed today.
The Rays also hope to have a better grasp on Kazmir's status by the time they convene this morning. Maddon said there's a chance Kazmir might not make his first scheduled Grapefruit League start Saturday against the Blue Jays, but that was yet to be determined.