GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Scott Kazmir worked three innings (55 pitches) against a team of Tribe minor-leaguers today because of a balky slider.
He felt he could fix the problem easier in the low pressure atmosphere of a simulated game on a back field at the team's spring training complex.
"When that pitch is going good for me, it’s my best pitch,’’ said Kazmir, who felt that he made whatever adjustment he was seeking.
Tribe officials seem happy with Kazmir’s velocity. His fastball sat at 91 miles per hour, at times rising to 93 and once or twice falling to 89.
"His velocity is a little better than we thought it would be, especially the life he had on it,’’ pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “”And when that slider is going good, it’s a swing-and-miss pitch.’’
Kazmir did not allow a run, giving up three hits, walking one and striking out five.
One spot is open in the rotation, and the frontrunners for the job are Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Manager Terry Francona said it was a “”good day,’’ and he was talking about more than the Indians’ 4-0 win over the Dodgers today.
"This was our best day of the spring, from cutoffs to scoring – we got a couple of double plays – to baserunning,’’ he said. “”It was a good day all around.’’
That included the pitching of Justin Masterson, who threw four scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out three.
"Masterson set the tone for a really good day,’’ Francona said.
Masterson threw his slider for the first time in a spring game and was pleased with the results.
"I mixed in a couple of sliders,’’ he said. I got some double plays, gave up a couple of base hits,’’ he said. “”I’m pretty much where I want to be early in spring.’’