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Angels' Scott Kazmir calls outing against Dodgers a success

The left-hander gives up five hits and three runs in two innings of a 5-0 spring-training loss on Sunday but is more concerned with rediscovering the mechanics and command he lost last season.

February 27, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels starting pitcher Scott Kazmir throws to third base during a spring-training drill.
Angels starting pitcher Scott Kazmir throws to third base during a spring-training… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)

Reporting from Phoenix — The pitching line from Scott Kazmir's first outing of the spring wasn't impressive.

Two innings, five hits, three runs given up in a 5-0 spring-training loss to the Dodgers.

"That's why I'm not looking at the line," Kazmir said.

There will be plenty of time to focus on results during the regular season. On Sunday, the Angels' left-hander was more concerned about rediscovering the mechanics and command that abandoned him last season, when he was 9-15 with a career-worst 5.94 earned-run average.

And by that measurement, he called the outing a success.

"You can nitpick and say 'what if this, what if that.' I'm just focused on what my pitches were like and the direction and how it felt," he said. "I felt really comfortable from pitch one to be able to attack the strike zone."

As he talked, Kazmir began pantomiming his delivery. Last summer, he said, he was flying open early, making it tough to throw strikes and giving hitters a good look at the ball as it left his hand, allowing them to pick up breaking pitches early.

That wasn't the case Sunday, he said.

"I felt like I'm not manipulating myself just to be able to get the ball over the plate," he said. "It feels like now everything's compact. It's all together."

Much of that is the product of a winter's worth of hard work. Kazmir came to Arizona in November to begin training at a specialized physical therapy center, focusing on improving his arm strength, flexibility and balance. He also cut his body-fat percentage from 13 to below 9%.

And although Manager Mike Scioscia isn't ready to christen all that a success, he conceded Sunday's effort marked a step forward.

"A lot of his outing was positive. [But] you still have to keep perspective about what a guy has to do through spring," said Scioscia, who had earlier challenged his pitcher by calling this off-season the most important of his career. "He's absolutely throwing the ball better right now than he did any time last spring. So that's a positive.

"There's still room to clean some stuff up, but he's getting better."

Welcome relief

Kazmir isn't the only Angels pitcher who came to spring training trying to forget last summer. Reliever Fernando Rodney, who blew four saves in the final 31/2 weeks of the season, also made his spring debut a positive one, throwing a scoreless inning in which he gave up a single but struck out two.

Short hops

Kendry Morales' broken ankle continues to improve. The first baseman, who has taken part in fielding drills, has yet to run aggressively, but Scioscia said Morales was scheduled to work out on a treadmill Sunday wearing a special harness that limits the load he carries to 80% of his body weight. There is no timetable regarding when Morales might appear in a game…. Infielder Brandon Wood, slowed early this spring by a bad back, is also progressing and could be in the lineup by the weekend.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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