Scott Kazmir meets manager, pitching coach behind closed doors ... again
For at least the second time this season, Scott Kazmir met with Manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher behind closed doors Thursday afternoon.
The Angels left-hander had a similar meeting May 12, when he was 2-3 with a 6.82 earned-run average and struggling with a number of mechanical issues.
Kazmir gave up five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings of Wednesday night's 6-4 loss to the Rangers, dropping his record to 7-7 with a 5.67 ERA, but Thursday's meeting seemed to focus more on Kazmir's long-lost slider, a pitch he has not thrown enough -- or effectively enough -- this season.
Kazmir, who has relied almost exclusively on his 91-mph fastball and changeup, said his slider felt great in the bullpen Wednesday night, but he threw "only about five of them" in the game.
This has been a common refrain; the slider feels great in the bullpen, but Kazmir can't get a feel for it in the game.
"Some of the issues that have plagued Scott have been a little redundant," Scioscia said. A Kazmir changeup was hammered by Vladimir Guerrero for a game-turning grand slam in the fourth inning.
"I think we need to mix it in more," Kazmir said of his slider. "I start to fall in love with my fastball and changeup, but I've got to give guys different looks. That's on me. I need to shake the catchers off more. I'm the one throwing the ball out there."
Even without full use of the pitch that made him one of baseball's better young left-handers when he came up with the Tampa Bay Rays, Kazmir won four straight starts from June 2-18, allowing six earned runs in 23 innings against the Royals, Athletics, Dodgers and Cubs.
"He's gone against some good offensive clubs and pitched seven or eight innings and won," Scioscia said. "I don't think his performances have been horrific. ... He hasn't felt good forcing [the slider], but at some point you have to bring it into a game because it's such a good pitch for him, a difference-maker."
That responsibility, Scioscia said, falls on Kazmir, a point that appeared to be hammered home during Thursday's meeting.
"The ultimate feel for a pitch is in the pitcher's hands," Scioscia said. "If he's not throwing it, he's not confident in it. If he is confident in it, he's going to shake off the catcher and throw it."
-- Mike DiGiovanna