Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Tampa Bay Rays ace Scott Kazmir, this first start won't be the same

BOSTON — He'll begin his season tonight at Fenway Park, just like he did last year. But for Scott Kazmir, that's about the only thing the same.

Last season, he was coming off an extended stay on the disabled list after a spring elbow injury. He wasn't sure what to expect that May 4 afternoon, and it turned out to be a rough start to a season of inconsistency.

Kazmir starts tonight not only feeling exceptionally well but equipped with two things he didn't have most of last season: his slider and the confidence that comes with it.

"Confidence is definitely there considering what it was last year," he said. "It just seems like it's a different year. I'm just excited to start the season completely healthy."

The slider is an important complement for Kazmir, making his fastball and changeup more effective and allowing him to finish off batters more quickly, and he said he plans to use it liberally tonight. If effective, it should push his strikeouts up and keep his pitch count down — by reducing the high number of foul balls hit off him, a major-league high 44.1 percent of pitches swung at were fouled off — and ultimately allow him to pitch deeper into games.

"There's a lot more excitement," Kazmir said. "You don't really feel you're limited to certain pitches or whatnot. You feel you have your whole arsenal out there. It's going to be fun out there."

Much of last season, he was essentially a two-pitch pitcher. He ran off an impressive streak early, winning six straight, and was selected to the All-Star Game, but he struggled as the season went on, his location was not as sharp, and opponents adjusted.

"It's tough to face those major-league hitters with only two pitches," he said. "They know what they're doing, they watch enough video, and they can adjust. It's nice to have that third pitch in there. It kind of feels like it's the equalizer."

Manager Joe Maddon has been pleased not only with the pitches Kazmir was throwing at the end of spring training but how he was throwing them, raving about the consistency of his delivery.

"I'd like to see him continue doing what he has been doing," Maddon said. "I thought he looked very good."

For Tampa Bay Rays ace Scott Kazmir, this first start won't be the same 04/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 6:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI

    Bucs

    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look

    Blogs

    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  3. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often

    Bucs

    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  4. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005

    Bucs

    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  5. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge

    Bucs

    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]