Kazmir’s been working on strength and flexibility – LA Times

By Mike DiGiovanna
Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. – It wasn’t reflected in his earned run average — 1.73 in six starts for the Angels after his Aug. 28 trade from Tampa Bay — but Scott Kazmir did not feel he was in peak form last season.


“I’d get nine or 10 pitches into an inning, and I didn’t have the explosiveness I wanted,” Kazmir said. “I was falling off pitches and stuff like that. At one point, you kind of wonder.”


So did Manager Mike Scioscia, who thought Kazmir’s stuff — the left-hander has a 94-mph fastball and sharp slider — was usually good, but his ability to put hitters away sometimes waned.


“His execution at times wasn’t where it needed to be, where he threw a lot of pitches trying to get to a certain point in the game,” Scioscia said. “When he’s right, he’s putting that good fastball where it needs to be, burying that slider.”


This was especially noticeable in Kazmir’s two playoff starts, when he gave up five runs in six innings in Game 3 of the American League division series against Boston and four runs in four innings in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against New York. He needed 89 pitches to get through his last outing.


The slippage prompted a shift in Kazmir’s winter regimen. Working with Houston-based trainer Lee Fiocchi and fellow big leaguers James Loney, Carl Crawford and Adam Dunn, Kazmir focused more on strengthening his core and legs and improving his flexibility and range of motion.


Though he has been slowed early in camp by a minor hamstring injury and a sore throat and fever, Kazmir can feel a difference.


“I feel like I’m going to be a little more explosive, and that’s going to help,” Kazmir said. “It wasn’t a huge red flag, but I felt addressing it would really benefit me.”


With a stronger core and base, Scioscia believes Kazmir will put less strain on his arm.


“He’ll be in the right arm slot more often instead of dropping down to compensate or flying open,” Scioscia said. “It’s all connected. With a more consistent delivery, he’ll minimize risk to his arm, because it’s not doing more work than it has to.”


Case closed


Catcher Jeff Mathis, fresh off his arbitration victory over the Angels in a 3