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Scott Kazmir sharp in A's spring debut (w/video)

  • Oakland Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir poses during the team's photo day before a spring training baseball practice Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

"This is kind of my routine," Kazmir said. "I want to get the fastball going first."

It was going, and it was going down. Six of the outs were thanks to grounders, which was good for Alberto Callaspo, who was making his debut at first base. He wound up with five putouts, saying Kazmir made it "easy" on him.

"A lot of ground balls," Callaspo said. "It was kind of weird at first, but I'll get the feeling for it."

Kazmir seems already to have it.

"He looked great out there," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "He pitched the way he should pitch in spring training."

Kazmir was the A's biggest cash outlay this winter. Oakland lost a veteran in 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, and they brought in Kazmir, who at 30 is a decade younger than Colon, with the hope that Kazmir's resurrection last year in Cleveland was no mirage.

In many ways, this spring will be the first chapter in the saga of whether this free-agent deal will pay off. Certainly A's manager Bob Melvin was enthused.

"Really, when he throws 92 (mph), it looks like 95," Melvin said. "He was getting real good extension with his pitches."

Kazmir was all but out of baseball three years ago after his career ground to a halt with the Angels, his fastball having deserted him and the Angels finally having had enough. He spent 2012 playing with Sugar Land in Texas in an independent league. But he signed with Cleveland, sputtering through the first half before catching fire in the second half.

His ERA after the All-Star break was 3.38 — it was 4.60 in the first half — and his strikeout rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio improved dramatically.


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