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Angels' Scott Kazmir has a disappointing outing

Left-hander struggles to find the plate in minor league game. He has a month to work things out.

May 24, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Pitcher Scott Kazmir struggled in his brief appearance with the Angels' triple-A affiliate on Tuesday.
Pitcher Scott Kazmir struggled in his brief appearance with the Angels'… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

The pitching line was disturbing enough for Scott Kazmir, who gave up six earned runs and two hits, walked four, hit a batter and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings for triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday.

Kazmir's postgame comments were just as disheartening for a club trying to squeeze some kind of return on the $14.5 million they're investing in the seemingly lost left-hander this season.

"It was kind of a flip of a coin if I was going to be able to get it over the plate," Kazmir said of his first rehabilitation start, which came after a monthlong stint in extended spring training. "It really had no direction and no drive straight to the plate."

The performance mirrored Kazmir's only start for the Angels this season, when he gave up five runs and five hits, walked two and hit two batters in 1 2/3 innings at Kansas City on April 3. Of the 50 pitches Kazmir threw Tuesday, 24 were strikes.

"There is such a small margin for error on how I'm throwing the baseball to get it over the plate," Kazmir said. "A couple of good fastballs in the first inning hit my spot. As the game went on, it was getting more and more out of sync."

In Anaheim, Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher could feel Kazmir's frustration.

"When guys struggle, they want to fix everything," Butcher said. "He's got 30 days to figure out where he is and where he's headed. We're going to give him all the support he needs. The biggest thing he needs to do is regain his confidence."

Butcher thinks that will come with command of a four-seam fastball Kazmir can throw to the inside corner against right-handed batters and the outside corner to lefties.

"Once he does that," Butcher said, "he can let everything else work off that."

The Angels must pay Kazmir whether he throws another pitch in the big leagues or not, so they're expected to give him a full month to right himself. If Kazmir shows no progress, he will be released.

"It's going to take some time to work through this, and hopefully there's a light at the end of the tunnel," Butcher said. "I don't want to say today was a complete step backward because he had a good first inning. The second inning fell apart on him."

Kazmir, whose fastball was clocked between 84 and 90 mph Tuesday, has lost his confidence, his command, his good fastball and his sharp slider. He hasn't lost hope.

"I feel good," he said. "My arm feels strong. I just have some things I'm trying to iron out. I'm not consistent, that's for sure. It's something where I'm just going to keep at it and keep working.

"It's more like finding it rather than re-creating it. That's what I did the past couple years. I'd re-create stuff just to try to get by. That's not me out there. It only got worse by changing stuff over and over. I'm just trying to get back to me."

Kendrick runs

Howie Kendrick sat out his fifth straight game because of a right hamstring injury, but he did begin running short sprints at about 80%, as well some agility drills, on Tuesday, and he remained hopeful he would avoid going on the disabled list.

"It's getting better every day," said Kendrick, who leads the team with a .322 average and seven homers. "Being able to run 100% is going to be the key."

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