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Kazmir's return date vague

Kazmir's return date vague

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ST. PETERSBURG -- With injury updates dominating the Rays' recent headlines, manager Joe Maddon's talk with the media before Wednesday's game vs. the Phillies focused on just that.

Maddon opened his injury report with what has become practically tradition: a vague update on ace Scott Kazmir, who suffered a left elbow strain on Feb. 25.

"Kaz will do the sock drill and continue to do inside work," Maddon said, referring to the rehab practice of throwing with a sock over his arm.

Maddon also said he will consult with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and determine the next step for Kazmir. While the lefty was optimistic that Wednesday's toss would lead to a bullpen session Thursday morning, Maddon was hesitant to specify, saying that the Rays would continue to play it by ear.

After partaking in Wednesday's drills, Kazmir reported his arm to be the "same old" it has been in the past few days. The lefty said he played catch for about five to 10 minutes, and reported no pain and minimal soreness.

Maddon was more specific on the timetable of backup catcher Shawn Riggans, who bruised his left hand after being hit by a pitch in Saturday's split-squad game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"Right now, we want to get him back to swinging," Maddon said. "We are just going to take it a day at a time, and I think he's going to be fine over the next couple days."

Riggans also reported that his hand was feeling better and said that the goal for Wednesday would be to get some swings off the tee.

Infielder Andy Cannizaro is also hoping to take some cuts off the tee after spending Tuesday doing "dry swings" with no ball or tee. Maddon hopes that Cannizaro, who received anti-inflammatories last week for recurring back pain, will continue to progress and become more involved in outside work as the week goes on.

Cannizaro is equally optimistic, stating his goal is to get into a game later in the week. While he acknowledges that there is still some "maintenance" work regarding his back, Cannizaro is looking forward to stepping up his efforts every day.

"I just want to get out there and show the team that I can play and help them win," Cannizaro said.

Third baseman Willy Aybar is also temporarily on the shelf. Maddon said that the infielder has been experiencing a tightness in his left hamstring. Maddon was mum on how this could affect the status of top prospect Evan Longoria, whose future is still undecided.

Longoria is already a fan favorite, but Maddon said that he isn't worried how popular or unpopular the final decision will be.

"We will do what we feel is right," he said.

Brittany Ghiroli 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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