ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir threw in the outfield prior to Friday's Rays-Reds contest at Progress Energy Park, and left the session feeling encouraged.
"I'm not going to put any timetable or anything like that on it," the Rays' ace said. "The good news is it feels wonderful. It feels great."
Kazmir, who led the American League with 239 strikeouts last season, suffered a left elbow strain prior to an intrasquad game on Feb. 25 and is on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21. He made 70 to 80 throws to pitching coach Jim Hickey from approximately 120 feet.
"Now it's just build up innings and get into the games," Kazmir said. "Get back into three outs, sitting down, getting back out there for another inning. That's the next step."
Kazmir said that he will throw a bullpen session Sunday, and should be entering a phase similar to the one pitchers are in during the beginning of Spring Training.
"That's how we're taking it right now," Kazmir said. "It's not going to be as long as Spring Training."
He added that the progression will likely see him pitch a two-inning stint in a Minor League Spring Training game, followed by four- and six-inning stints.
"That's kind of how we're going to set it up," Kazmir said. "But everything can change. It just all depends on how everything feels, how strong everything feels. I'm happy where we're at right now. I think we took the right step on how to go about this -- make sure everything feels good."
Kazmir had been progressing nicely from his injury, but he was scratched from his first spring start on March 16. Since then, the Rays put him on the DL, which will cause him to miss the first week of the season at the very least. Kazmir and the Rays continue to maintain that it's just a matter of taking a conservative approach, so that when he does return, there will be no setbacks. The earliest he could come off the DL is April 5, but it's doubtful he'll be ready to go by then.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.