04/05/10 8:45 PM ET
Kazmir 'very surprised' to start on DL
Angels lefty gets one more tuneup before April 15 return
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The 26-year-old left-hander will be replaced in the rotation on Friday night against the Athletics at Angel Stadium by veteran right-hander Matt Palmer.
"I felt like I was ready [to face the A's]," Kazmir said, having thrown 77 pitches in a camp game in Arizona on Sunday and then 10 more in the bullpen. "At the same time, I didn't get that many [Cactus League] innings. I have a little more time to work on things."
Assuming all goes well in a tuneup on Friday for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Kazmir will miss only one turn in the Angels' rotation.
"I was ready for Friday," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I need to do to be ready for my second start."
His turn comes up on April 15, when the Angels are in New York for a reprise of their American League Championship Series taken in six games by the eventual World Series champion Yanks last October.
"Might as well start off with a bang," Kazmir said, grinning.
He fell behind in Spring Training when he reported with the remnants of a right hamstring strain. Tightness in his pitching shoulder, discovered by the training staff while he underwent a pre-start rubdown on March 25, cost him a start.
He returned with a solid outing in his spring finale against the Brewers, throwing 71 pitches in five innings while yielding one run on four hits.
"I don't even think about the hamstring or shoulder now," Kazmir said. "I'm way past all that."
He is most encouraged by the progress he made during the spring with his slider, getting more drive and snap into a pitch that complements his mid-90s fastball and changeup.
"Right now," he said when asked about his immediate goal, "it's to build up innings, get my strength back. I feel good. I've been snapping off some nice sliders, and that's good to see. It would have been fun going out there Friday."
Manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher decided to take no chances with Kazmir given that Palmer is stretched out to 90 pitches and was 11-2 with a 3.93 ERA in a breakout 2009 season.
"Going back a couple starts ago," Scioscia said of Kazmir, "we didn't think it was the right thing to try to get him from 45 pitches to 90 pitches in the amount of time we had.
"We told him we were going to take it a little slow. He thought he was going to be ready to start the season, but it doesn't make sense when he was going to miss only one start."
The Angels have an off-day on Monday after they wrap up a seven-game homestand and head east to face the Yankees. That allows Scioscia to keep his other four starters -- Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro -- on their regular fifth day until Kazmir debuts.
Santana and Pineiro would precede Kazmir to the mound in the three-game series in the Bronx.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.