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Scott Kazmir finds rhythm in 'B' game

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Scott Kazmir pitched on the back fields of Camelback Ranch on Monday.
Scott Kazmir pitched on the back fields of Camelback Ranch on Monday.
Photo: Ryan Walton | True Blue LA

PHOENIX -- Scott Kazmir had mixed results in his 'B' game against a collection of White Sox major league and minor league hitters on the back fields at Camelback Ranch on Monday, though the left-hander was less concerned about the results and was more pleased with his improvement as the game went on.

Kazmir threw 69 pitches in five simulated innings to a lineup that featured catcher Alex Avila plus others with major league experience in Steve Lombardozzi, Andy Parrino and Vinny Rottino. Yasmani Grandal caught for the Dodgers.

"I was working on a couple pitches, but was just trying to get that catcher-pitcher relationship down where we were in sync and had a good rhythm going," Kazmir recalled. "There were some things we tried in the first few innings that made it a little more difficult. We changed it a little bit, then by the third or fourth inning we were right there thinking with each other."

The benefit of the 'B' game on the back fields is the pliable nature of the rules. As pitchers work on things, should they run into an inning that gives them trouble, instead of having to pitch out of the situation and run up their pitch count, they can reset and start over with a blank slate in the next frame, as was the case a couple of times with Kazmir in the early innings.

"He was a little frustrated. His fastball command wasn't there. He threw some good changeups," manager Dave Roberts said. "He got his work in and got his pitch count up, but where he wanted to be as far as getting the fastball down it was elevated."

Kazmir said he was able to throw his curveball for strikes and that his changeup was working for him. But what he was working on was less pitch selection and more building a rhtyhm with Grandal, after allowing seven runs on 12 hits in 3⅔ innings in his first two Cactus League starts, with two walks and three strikeouts.

More B game: Video of a few innings

"That's what spring training is about, to have that relationship where he knows what I'm thinking and I know what he's thinking. It's at that point where we're playing off each other, having a good rhythm, knowing how fast I like to work," Kazmir said. "There are a lot of things in the pitcher-catcher relationship, and I feel like we ironed it out in the later innings."

"With veterans you definitely give them a little bit more rope. With a guy that's proven and he's done it, time and time again," Roberts said. "There's definitely no concern right now, and he knows the adjustments he needs to make.

"For Kaz, it's just working out some things, and I'm sure he and Honey will address it. But when you're pitching at the thighs as opposed to the knees, that's a big difference to major league hitters. I just know that when the ball is down you get guys out, and that plays to his changeup as well."

Though his velocity was reportedly in the mid- to high-80s on his fastball, it is still spring training and Kazmir, who averaged 93.01 mph on his four-seam fastball in 2015 per Brooks Baseball, said the current speed readings are part of the process of getting ready for the regular season.

"I'm not trying to overthrow. I'm still trying to build up arm strength," Kazmir said. "That's something that comes. You don't try to let it go to much trying to get velocity. It's about repeating delivery right now."

Kazmir's next chance to repeat his delivery will be in a Cactus League game, perhaps either Saturday when the Dodgers have aplit squad games or Sunday, the latter giving him an extra day of rest.

Here is video of Kazmir in his first inning of work, thanks to Ryan Walton.

Dodgers B Game Scott Kazmir

Posted by True Blue L.A. on Monday, March 14, 2016