Strug­gling Kazmir is bounced early by the White Sox

Los Angeles Times - - Baseball - Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@latimes.com

The mys­tery of what is ail­ing Scott Kazmir has con­founded and frus­trated the An­gels all sea­son. So even be­fore Kazmir took the mound Satur­day for his fi­nal home start of the sea­son, Man­ager Mike Scios­cia said the search for a cure will con­tinue into the off-sea­son.

“Scott un­der­stands the chal­lenge in front of us,” Scios­cia said. “He’s a guy re­ally fight­ing to get a foothold as a ma­jor league start­ing pitcher again. And con­tinue his ca­reer.”

The only thing that con­tin­ued Satur­day was Kazmir’s strug­gles, with the left-han­der last­ing only one bat­ter into the fourth in­ning of a 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Things have got­ten so bad, in fact, on this night he couldn’t even fool Manny Ramirez, whose thirdinning run-scor­ing dou­ble was both his sec­ond ex­tra-base hit and sec­ond run bat­ted in since the Dodgers shipped him to Chicago last month. The re­sult was not only Kazmir’s short­est out­ing of the sea­son, but his 10th loss in 12 de­ci­sions, part of a 14-start span in which he has posted a 7.00 earned-run av­er­age­and his record has droppedto 915.

And if Kazmir can’t get that turned around this win­ter, Scios­cia said, there’s a good chance he won’t be in the ro­ta­tion next spring.

“His abil­ity to pitch and to shut down good of­fenses is still there. It hasn’t been there on a con­sis­tent ba­sis and that’s Scott’s chal­lenge,” Scios­cia said. “You don’t need num­bers to eval­u­ate his per­for­mance.”

Part of the so­lu­tion, the An­gels hope, will come in Ari­zona, where Kazmir will work this off-sea­son with pitch­ing coach Mike Butcher while par­tic­i­pat­ing in an ag­gres­sive phys­i­cal ther­apy pro­gram and a new strength and con­di­tion­ing rou­tine.

“I’m all ready to start [now],” a flus­tered Kazmir said af­ter his lat­est set­back. “It’s been a jour­ney. It’s been a rough one. But I know what I’m ca­pa­ble of do­ing. I’ve just got to keep at it.”

Atwo-time All-Star with Tampa Bay who won in dou­ble fig­ures over five sea­sons in a row, Kazmir, 26, bat­tled through an in­jury-marred 2009 sea­son in which he posted a ca­reer-high 4.89 ERA. He has bat­tled all types of is­sues this sea­son, in­clud­ing an in­jury-in­duced wari­ness about throw­ing his sharp slider, once a dev­as­tat­ing pitch.

“It’s just me fight­ing my­self out there,” Kazmir said. “That’s where you have in­con­sis­tency. There’s a cou­ple of things that we look at in the video that we can see, but it’s just hard to clean up. All these bad habits, I’m just try­ing to get out of them.

“When you feel like you’re fight­ing your­self ev­ery sin­gle time you throw a base­ball, it’s hard to stay fo­cused on ex­actly the pitch you’re look­ing to throw.”

Weaver, Hunter hon­ored

In pregame cer­e­monies, Jered Weaver was pre­sented with the Nick Aden­hart Award as the An­gels’ top pitcher for the sec­ond year in a row. The award is named af­ter the An­gels pitcher, and close Weaver friend, who was killed in a car crash last sea­son.

Torii Hunter was pre­sented with the Own­ers Tro­phy as the team’s player of the year. Both awards are voted on by the An­gels play­ers.

M*A*S*H All-Stars

In­jured in­field­ers Erick Ay­bar, Al­berto Cal­laspo and Maicer Iz­turis worked out, and Scios­cia said it’s pos­si­ble all three could play again be­fore the sea­son ends.

Iz­turis has made three trips to the dis­abled list this sea­son, the most re­cent be­cause of an in­flamed shoul­der. He hasn’t played since Aug. 19.

Ay­bar was re­cently de­clared done for the sea­son, but Scios­cia back­tracked on that af­ter doc­tors de­cided Ay­bar wouldn’t need surgery for a sports her­nia.

“As he goes through his base­ball rou­tine, gets into his base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties, we’re go­ing to be able to read ex­actly where he is,” Scios­cia said.

Cal­laspo suf­fered a bruise on his left foot when he was hit by a pitch Mon­day. Scios­cia said the third base­man is still a few days away from be­ing able to play.

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