Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir delivers a pitch against the Dodgers during… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )
Reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Angels appear to be growing short of patience with Scott Kazmir. But whether they're frustrated enough to eat the $14.5 million it would cost them to release the left-hander remains to be seen.
Kazmir had the worst start of his major league career in Sunday's loss to Kansas City, with the Royals collecting as many runs and hits — five — as Kazmir got outs. Throw in two walks, two hit batters and a balk, and it was a meltdown of epic proportions.
Afterward, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia promised to make changes — though he was vague about what kind or who they would affect.
"We're going to sort some things out," said Scioscia, whose team takes on Tampa Bay on Tuesday after losing the final three games of its season-opening series to the Royals. "We're only four games into this and you definitely want to balance guys getting their feet on the ground with performance. But we need to find some chemistry."
A former All-Star, Kazmir lost 15 games last season and his 5.94 earned-run average was the highest in the majors among pitchers who threw at least 140 innings.
The Angels responded by ordering him to spend the off-season in Arizona, going through a rigorous training regimen Kazmir called "boot camp."
Kazmir, 27, reported to spring training in what he said was the best shape of his life, but it hasn't shown in his pitching.
Rather than progressing, he appears to be regressing. In six spring training starts, he gave up almost as many runs (19) as he had innings pitched (21 2/3). And his fastball, once in the mid-90s, now sits in the mid-80s.
"Kaz is a little more complicated, a little more baffling," Scioscia said. "Right now, he doesn't have either velocity or command."
It seems to make little sense moving Kazmir to a bullpen already weighed down with problems, but can the Angels afford to give him a start every fifth day?
With pitchers Scott Downs and Joel Pineiro due back from the disabled list soon, a decision on Kazmir's future is looming.
Could be worse
As difficult a day as Kazmir had Sunday, it wasn't as historically bad as what catcher Jeff Mathis suffered through.
Mathis was 0 for 6 at the plate, striking out twice. He was also 0 for 6 behind the plate — the Royals stole six bases.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other time that's been done in baseball's modern era was May 11, 1988, when Bob Brenly of the San Francisco Giants was hitless in six at-bats while the St. Louis Cardinals stole six bases in a 16-inning game the Giants won.
And while we're on the subject of records for futility, when Rich Thompson came on to relieve Kazmir in the second inning Sunday, he committed a balk before throwing a pitch.
Add that to the balk Kazmir committed an inning earlier and it ties a franchise record for balks in a game — last accomplished in 1996.