Notes: Kazmir makes adjustment
Left-hander adds more comfort, control on the mound
ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir will start for the Devil Rays on Friday night and hopes to experience the good feeling he enjoyed in Sunday's game against the White Sox after he made a mechanical adjustment.
The Rays' left-hander moved from his toe barely touching the rubber on the third-base side to where he is now pitching from just past the middle part of the rubber on the first-base side.
The adjustment "makes me stay closed," Kazmir said. "Seems like everything is natural, I don't have to control my body too much. I felt just like I could let it go and control it better."
Kazmir has resisted any such change in the past.
"I've been asked [about changing his position on the rubber] quite a bit during my career, but it's something I didn't want to change," Kazmir said. "I was comfortable with it the way it was. I didn't really want to change anything. But once I had that bullpen [session] and threw a couple of pitches, I just felt comfortable, really comfortable."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Kazmir's command seemed to improve during Sunday's win.
"So maybe he got a better feel for it while the game was in progress," Maddon said. "I know that there are times when pitchers will do that. I think maybe right now, he's seeing the hitter a little different because of the angle and that in turn is making him do something with his wrist at the end."
Changes in rotation: The starting rotation has been a problem area for the Rays throughout the first 50 games, and Maddon said they have been having conversations about possible changes.
"But nothing's been firmed up yet," Maddon said.
Pressed further, Maddon was asked if he felt they had reached a point where something had to be done.
"We've given three months of the season to really try and evaluate the situation," Maddon said. "And again, we are having conversations about possibly doing something else, and again it is in the conversational stage, and we'll see. But it's difficult. We've had some difficult things in the different starting spots and we're trying to work through all of this, trying to make the right decisions."
Dukes update: According to a report posted on the St. Petersburg Times Web site, a Hillsborough County judge granted a one-year restraining order on Wednesday to NiShea Gilbert, wife of Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes.
The Times reports that Dukes waived his appearance and was not present in the Hillsborough County Court in Plant City. The order specifies that Dukes cannot contact his wife for one year, he must undergo psychological evaluation before he is allowed to see his children, and he is not allowed to possess weapons.
Dukes has been in the center of a storm after reports about his domestic problems recently surfaced.
No stolen bases: Carl Crawford, the reigning American League stolen base champion, is currently stalled at 12 steals for the season.
Crawford has not stolen a base since May 15 against the Rangers and has just attempted one steal during the period since then, when he was thrown out Monday night against the Tigers on a questionable call.
Crawford didn't seem too worried about the lull.
"Just, I'm down in the order, so a lot of times there are two outs and you don't really want to run into the last out," Crawford said. "I just want to make sure it's a meaningful stolen base instead of taking off all the time. So I've just been kind of picking my time to steal instead of taking off every time I get on base."
Maddon did not seem too concerned either.
"I know they're paying a lot of attention to him," Maddon said. "He's fine, he's well, he's healthy. My only advice to him is to keep on shooting. Like when you have a little bit of a shooting slump in basketball, you just need to keep on shooting until you get it back. He just needs to get on first base and have those opportunities and the right matchups. He's on his own. I trust him."
Up next: The Rays begin a four-game series against the Royals on Friday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Kazmir will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Brian Banister.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.