HOUSTON: Scott Kazmir will make his 2013 debut tonight against the Houston Astros after a strained rib cage postponed his first start for almost three weeks.
As a minor-league invitee to spring training, Kazmir was a long shot to win a job in the rotation, but he displayed a live arm and remarkable consistency, in light of the fact that he spent last season pitching for an independent league team in Texas.
“He’s not going to back down to anybody,” manager Terry Francona said Friday. “The biggest thing is getting him stretched out again, so he can go deeper in games. So I think he’s very excited about this.”
ANOTHER HURDLE — Lou Marson (neck strain) is merely trying to get some playing time in his rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus.
But in his first game, it rained, so he returned to Cleveland and took batting practice with the Indians the next day.
In Marson’s second rehab game, he played four innings, and it rained again. The plan now is for him to catch six or seven innings today.
He is not eligible to come off the DL until Wednesday.
KIPNIS RETURNS — Jason Kipnis (sore elbow) was back in the lineup Friday night after missing five games.
“He feels pretty good now,” Francona said. “The idea was not to rush it. We tried to use the best judgment we could.”
ALBERS UPDATE — Matt Albers, who left the team because of a family emergency, has been placed on the restricted list, which means he does not count on the 25- or 40-man rosters.
Albers’ home is near Houston, and he worked out with the team on Friday. Francona is hoping that he will rejoin the club on Monday in Chicago.
FARM FACTS — Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched four innings in a rain-shortened game between Columbus and Toledo. Matsuzaka gave up two runs and two hits, walking eight and striking out four. … Shawn Morimando (1-1, 1.29 ERA) pitched six scoreless innings, giving up four hits and no walks, as Carolina beat Myrtle Beach 5-1 in Class A. Francisco Lindor doubled and tripled.
— Sheldon Ocker