GLENDALE, Ariz. – Scott Kazmir has spent a lot of time this spring rummaging through the lost-and-found. He’s convinced his old pitching mechanics are in there somewhere.
The veteran left-hander spent nearly all of the 2016 season, basically, breaking down.
In his first year after signing a three-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers, the veteran left-hander was beset by an interconnected series of maladies that robbed him of flexibility and distorted his mechanics, leading to a 4.56 ERA and 1.36 WHIP – his highest marks since his career was falling apart with the Angels in 2010 and 2011. He averaged fewer than five innings per start over his last 15 starts, inflammation creeping into his back and neck muscles and essentially ending his season in late August.
“I think overall his body is in a much better place than where he was at the end of last season or most of the season really,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “He was trying to pitch through a bunch of different issues. But I think part of it, I think he also got into some bad habits trying to pitch through some of those issues that we’re trying to correct.”
Kazmir acknowledges that and has spent extended time on the mound this spring with Honeycutt and guest instructors Orel Hershiser and Eric Gagne all contributing their expertise to Kazmir’s search for a “simple, athletic” delivery once again.
“I just want to get on the mound more, and to have those guys there to answer any questions and give me feedback is huge,” said Kazmir, who is scheduled to make his first spring start against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night. “It’s just little things mobility-wise that I didn’t have in the past and now I’m retraining myself to use it.”
Kazmir said his issues began with a lack of flexibility in his hips. His attempts to “artificially put yourself in position” to deliver a pitch led to problems in his back and eventually his neck….