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Scott Kazmir to work on Angels' day off

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The Angels have an off day scheduled for Monday. And through it's their only break of the spring it will be business as usual for left-hander Scott Kazmir, who will start that afternoon in a "B" game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Plans are still being finalized, but the Angels hope to lure a team of Colorado Rockies minor leaguers over to Tempe to face Kazmir.

The outing figures to be an important one for the former two-time All-Star who is coming off the worst season of his career, in which he went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA. He rededicated himself over the winter, working on his flexibility, strengthening his core and trying to streamline his delivery, throwing 12 bullpen sessions before spring training even started.

But the results have been mixed. In his last outing Wednesday, Kazmir allowed five hits, four walks, threw a wild pitch and committed an error in three-plus inning. In three Cactus League appearances, he's given up 12 hits and five walks in eight innings, striking out three. But he's allowed just three earned runs.

"I feel like I made progress," said Kazmir, who said he's been rushing his delivery in games. "My bullpens are great. [But when] I get in the game, I try to get that little extra. Less is more right now."

Pitching coach Mike Butcher pulled Kazmir into the video room early Thursday to break down his latest performance. And while Manager Mike Scioscia said he, too, had seen some progress from Kazmir this spring there's a lot of work left to do.

"We’re still moving ahead slowly," he said. "The positives were he feels good, his arm feels good, he’s definitely working through some release-point issues right now.

"But we’re seeing signs that he has more life than last year so we’re seeing some progress. He wasn't as pitch-efficient as we would like to see. But there were signs of that ball coming out hotter than it did any time last year and that’s encouraging."

One big performance, Scioscia said, could get Kazmir over that final hump.

"He’s very self-analytical," Scioscia said. "He knows what he’s trying to do. He knows the feel he’s trying to get to. And at times that process moves slowly and it can get frustrating. He knows he feels good and he feels like he’s close, he wants it to happen yesterday.

"Sometimes you’ve just got to get out and gain some confidence with just repeating a pitch and turning the ball loose," the manager said. "That will keep your mechanics together. And then a lot of that self-doubt starts to evaporate when your confidence reappears."

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Scott Kazmir. Credit: Jake Roth / U.S. Presswire.

 
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