Maddon not worried about Kazmir
Skipper feels lefty throwing well despite decreased velocity
ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Kazmir endured a pretty rough start against the Twins on Wednesday.
But velocity is not one of the things that manager Joe Maddon is worried about in regard to his star left-hander.
While getting shelled for eight runs (six earned) on nine hits in four innings -- walking four and striking out four -- during an 8-3 loss at Minnesota, Kazmir topped 92 mph only once while staying around 89-90 mph most of the time. And during a 34-pitch first inning that saw him give up four runs while facing nine batters, he threw five of his fastballs at 92, six at 91, two for 90 and three at 89.
While going 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA in 27 starts in 2008, Kazmir would occasionally rear back and hit 94 mph on the radar gun, but Maddon said that the low 90s is good enough for his young starter.
"He pretty much was at the same place last year, honestly," Maddon said. "He touched 92 several times yesterday. Last year he pitched a lot at 89, 90, 91 [mph], so I'm not really concerned about his velocity, because I see that. And again, even like in a losing effort yesterday, he was not pummeled."
In fact, Maddon feels that Kazmir threw the ball well in the road finale -- he just ran into some bad luck.
"A lot of it was command issues, and the Twins did get some unfortunate hits off him," Maddon said. "But I thought yesterday he was throwing the ball as well as I've seen in a while.
"From a mechanical standpoint and just throwing a baseball, I thought he looked better."
Kazmir was sharp in Spring Training, going 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in five starts. And other than Wednesday's bad outing and another on April 18 -- when he yielded six runs in four innings to the White Sox -- the 25-year-old native of Houston has been sharp this season, too.
Not only is he not concerned about the velocity of Kazmir's four-seam fastball, Maddon is impressed with the increased movement of Kazmir's two-seamer.
"He does have a good two-seamer, and it's just getting a lot of action," Maddon said. "You've been hearing that a lot from the catchers down in Spring Training. He probably just has a better feel for the command of it more than anything."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.