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Mar 14, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Luke Scott (30) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Notes: Scott Kazmir Delivers Strong Effort for Indians, Escobar, Scott Getting Ready to Return

Remember when Scott Kazmir was the only beacon of hope on a Devil Rays team going nowhere? That time is long gone, but Scott Kazmir’s time is not done yet. In his second start in his return to the major leagues for the Cleveland Indians, Kazmir came through with his first 5-inning start since September 28, 2010, allowing just 2 run on 4 hits in his 5 frames and striking out 4 while walking 2. A Salvador Perez 2-run home run was his only mistake. With a fastball touching as high as 95 MPH, Kazmir showed flashes of being the pitcher he was in Tampa Bay, and while a return to being an ace is probably not in Kazmir’s future, good things could very well be ahead. Best of luck to Kazmir and hopefully this is only the start of a great comeback story.

Back to the current Rays, the Rays have plenty of reason for optimism themselves with two of their key players set to return to the lineup on Tuesday: Luke Scott, in what will be his 2013 debut, and also Yunel Escobar, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury. As we covered in our Merrill Kelly, Felipe Rivero Dominant in Shutout Outings” href=”” target=”_blank”>minor league recap, Scott looked fine on Saturday one day following his early departure from a game after getting hit by a pitch in the elbow, and Scott will get reevaluated after one more rehab game today, with the possibility of him coming up for Tuesday’s game if everything looks good. It was unfortunate when Scott went down because he was just playing so well in spring training, and the Rays will expect big things from him as their designated hitter when he comes back.

In Escobar’s case, the Rays are taking it nice and easy with him, especially after seeing how Evan Longoria suffered a setback rushing back from his hamstring injury last season, and Joe Maddon hopes he will be ready for Tuesday.

“I don’t want to press him right now and then have any kind of setback,” Maddon said. “It’s getting better, but it’s not time to push it.”

The good news for the Rays is that Ben Zobrist has been doing great taking Escobar’s position at shortstop so they really have no incentive accelerating his timetable. Escobar has gotten off to a rough start to the season, but he has been much improved of late and you have to hope he’ll keep playing the way he’s capable when he returns.

If you’re a Rays fan, you have probably heard all about Jose Molina‘s pitch framing ability behind the plate. Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus covered This Week in Pitch Framing, and unsurprisingly, Molina figured in quite prominently even in what Linbergh described as a “slump week.” Linbergh showcased several “nasty” frames and generated a couple of reactions from hitters certainly worth laughing about (unless you were one of those hitters). No one is going to laud Molina’s offense, but his pitch framing is huge to the Rays’ success and that can’t be underestimated.

Tags: Jose Molina Luke Scott Scott Kazmir Tampa Bay Rays Yunel Escobar

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