“All in all, the progress has been slow,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of Kazmir, who allowed 10 third-inning runs Sunday and has given up 16 runs in four innings for triple-A Salt Lake. “His fastball command has been improving slowly. His changeup has been terrific.
”So his arm speed seems to be there. It’s just commanding the baseball right now and that’s still where we are with Kaz.”
A two-time All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays, Kazmir
(pictured at right) struggled through a career-worst season last summer, going 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA. His fastball lost much of its zip, his once-deadly slider became hittable and he had trouble locating any of his pitches.
The Angels responded by sending Kazmir to a fitness “boot camp” in Arizona during the winter and the left-hander also threw about a dozen bullpen sessions before spring training began, trying to iron out a number of issues with his delivery.
None of it worked. Kazmir allowed 19 runs, 26 hits and 13 walks in 21 2/3 spring training innings, then got rocked for five runs in 2 1/3 innings in his only regular-season outing, leading to a stint on the disabled list.
Pitching coach Mike Butcher said Kazmir’s numbers Sunday in Tucson were not helped by a steady wind that gusted up to 30 mph. And Salt Lake Manager Keith Johnson said there were at least three defensive plays that weren’t made behind him in the fateful third.
“He felt like he threw the ball better. Felt like there was some progression,” said Butcher, who spoke afterward with Kazmir. “Obviously, the results weren’t great. The bottom line is he’s got to go out there, he’s got to pound the zone.
“He did a little bit better, so there’s a little bit of progress. Not as much as he wants to see. You’ve got to have results at some point.”
Kazmir has three weeks left on his minor league assignment before the Angels have to decide whether to reactivate him. But no matter what they do, the Angels are responsible for what remains of the $14.5 million on Kazmir’s contract.
-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Kansas City
Photo credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times