Oakland Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir was a late scratch from his scheduled spring training start against the Cubs on Monday due to stiffness in his left triceps.
Jane Lee of MLB.com was the first to report Kazmir's injury, news of which came less than a half hour away from the scheduled opening pitch:
Also, Kazmir has been scratched today with left triceps stiffness. Eeek.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 17, 2014
Kazmir, 30, signed a two-year, $22 million contract with the Athletics last December. He is expected to be a vital part of Oakland's starting rotation in 2014, though this would be far from the first time injuries have kept him on the shelf.
Athletics assistant general manager David Forst told gathered reporters that Kazmir's injury is not expected to be serious, per Lee:
Forst says Kazmir's injury very minor. He could've pitched today but A's didn't want to push it. He'll see orthopedist today.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 17, 2014
Joe Savery will start in Kazmir's place against the Cubs. Overall, Monday was a day of massive concern across the Athletics organization. The team announced Jarrod Parker would "likely" miss the entire 2014 season due to an upcoming Tommy John surgery—the second of his young career. With A.J. Griffin also dealing with an injury, Oakland's formerly robust rotation is suddenly starting to look a little thin.
While there are still some notable pitchers remaining on the open market, Forst told Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet that the club has no plans on adding any pitching depth at this time. Guys like Jeff Karstens, himself trying to work back from an injury, could likely be available on the cheap.
For now, though, it seems like the Athletics are comfortable enough with Kazmir's prognosis they don't feel the need to make any additions. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Oakland is not ruling out starting Kazmir with one extra day of rest on Tuesday.
Once one of the best young pitching prospects in baseball when coming up in the Rays organization, Kazmir's career trajectory has been stunted by injuries for years. Though he never had the one debilitating injury, numerous shoulder and elbow ailments sapped the velocity from his fastball and put his career in jeopardy.
While solid, if inconsistent during parts of five-plus seasons with the Rays, a trade to the Angels in 2009 proved disastrous. He went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA during his only full campaign with Los Angeles in 2010 and started only one game a season later before being released. After the Angels cut him midway through 2011, Kazmir sat out the entire 2012 season while attempting to work on a comeback.
Salvation came with the Indians last season, where he turned a minor league contract into a renewed reputation. Flashing increased velocity and a seemingly renewed confidence, Kazmir went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. More importantly, he struck out more than a batter per inning and was nearly back to being a three-win pitcher, per FanGraphs.
Oakland's relatively steep spending price means it's expecting more of the same from Kazmir in 2014. Even though the team is saying all the right things now, hearing the words "injury" and "Kazmir" in the same sentence has to be cause for concern. Especially given the rest of the issues in the rotation, the Athletics better hope their initial prognosis is correct.
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