Angels Manager Mike Scioscia stunned by Scott Kazmir's collapse but hopes he pitches again
"I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher who wasn’t injured whose skills just evaporated as much as they did for Scott," Scioscia said. "He’d long-toss 240 feet, and you can’t be hurt and do that. Then he’d get on the mound and try to translate that energy into a pitch, and it wasn’t there."
Kazmir went 2-2 with a 1.73 earned-run average in six starts after the Angels acquired him from Tampa Bay in August of 2009, but he was ineffective in 2010, going 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA in 28 starts.
This season was a disaster for Kazmir, a 27-year-old former All-Star who in 2007 went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA and an American League-leading 239 strikeouts. After giving up five runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings in Kansas City on April 3, the Angels placed Kazmir on the disabled list with lower-back tightness.
Kazmir spent a month in extended spring training in Arizona trying to find a consistent delivery and release point but made no progress in a rehabilitation stint with triple-A Salt Lake, going 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA, 20 walks and 14 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings.
He lost a considerable amount of velocity on his fastball and had such little command of his pitches that he threw three of them completely behind the backs of right-handed hitters in one triple-A start.
The Angels saw little hope for Kazmir and released him even though they will pay the remainder of his $14.5-million salary for this season. Whether Kazmir's problems were mental, physical or both, he did not fail because of a lack of effort.
"Nobody worked harder to get his stuff back than Scott did," Scioscia said. "He was trying to bring every resource he could into it.... We really felt for Scott.
Scioscia, however, thinks Kazmir will get another chance to pitch at some point.
"Hopefully, as the fog of what he’s been through clears out, he'll get another shot somewhere," Scioscia said. "We're talking about an All-Star pitcher who couldn’t find it for an extended period of time, but I think there’s still talent in there. We’re pulling for him. He put everything he had into it and was as frustrated as any player I’ve seen."
-- Mike DiGiovanna in New York
Photo: Former Angels starter Scott Kazmir during a game last season at Angel Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times