MLB News Story - At 34, Braves' Kazmir compensating for diminished fastball

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At 34, Braves' Kazmir compensating for diminished fastball

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

By DICK SCANLON

Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Scott Kazmir hopes that if his second major league comeback is slowed by an injury, it would be an arm ailment.

"It's not good to go through pains in other parts of your body," Kazmir said Thursday after his third spring training start for the Atlanta Braves. "You tend to compensate and you get into bad habits."

The 34-year-old Atlanta left-hander reached 89 mph Thursday, when he allowed two runs and four hits in three innings of a 6-4 loss to Houston.

"It's crazy to even say it, but from experience it seems like you'd almost want it to be your arm that goes down," Kazmir said. "You're probably going to shut it down when there's something wrong with your arm, as opposed to some little thing you've got going on somewhere else. You figure `I'll compensate, I'll figure something out.' But it doesn't always work out that way."

Kazmir is in the final season of a $48 million, three-year contract he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His left hip started to bother him in September 2016, and his only games last year were four appearances at Class A during an injury rehabilitation assignment. The Braves acquired him in a December trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers.

Kazmir hopes to earn a spot in a young rotation projected to include Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy, Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara - who has yet to pitch because of a groin injury.

At this stage of his career, Kazmir does not have the velocity that helped him lead the AL in strikeouts in 2007 and earn the start for Tampa Bay in the 2008 World Series opener.

"There have been glimpses of it that were a little more than I actually expected," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's gone through everything that was drawn up for him to do up to this point, so that's a good thing."

As recently as 2016, Kazmir's fastball averaged 92 mph.

"It just doesn't come overnight apparently," he said. "It definitely feels like there's a lot more in the tank. It's not like I'm trying to force something through a certain pain or restriction. Historically in spring training I really don't throw hard at all, especially the first couple out there."

He thought his cutter was flat Thursday, and he allowed a home run to Derek Fisher.

"You definitely have to find a way to compensate and get the job done," Kazmir said. "I know the velo is going to be there once I'm synched up."

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Updated March 8, 2018

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