Cleveland’s Matsuzaka leaves with cramp in leg
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Daisuke Matsuzaka gave his manager a scare. Scott Kazmir gave Terry Francona more reason to think the left-hander still might have something to contribute.
Matsuzaka left his outing Monday because of a cramp in his right calf, overshadowing a fine performance by Scott Kazmir as the Cleveland Indians played to a 0-0 tie with Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels.
“It’s hard to let a guy pitch like that,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona, who managed Matsuzaka with Boston. “He came in after his first inning and he was trying to loosen it up. We told him when he went out, if it was bothering him, to let us know. You could tell when he was warming up he just couldn’t get it to loosen up.”
Attempting a comeback after having elbow-reconstruction surgery in 2011 and a disastrous final season with Boston, the 32-year-old Matsuzaka allowed one hit in one inning before cramping during warmups for his second inning in his fourth spring appearance.
Before the game, Francona described Matsuzaka’s previous bullpen session the best he’s thrown since joining Cleveland.
Francona knows Matsuzaka well. The Japanese star went 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA with World Series champion Boston in 2007 and followed that with an 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA in 2008. Since 2008, he’s never won more than nine games in a season and went 1-7 with a 8.28 ERA with Boston in 2012.
Also trying to make a comeback is Kazmir. Out of the majors since being cut by the Angels in June 2011, the 2002 first round pick of the New York Mets pitched four innings of three-hit ball with four strikeouts.
The 29-year-old Kazmir ran his scoreless streak eight innings in major league outings and 11 overall — including an appearance in a minor league “B″ game.
“I was throwing strikes, that’s all you can ask for in spring,” said Kazmir, a two-time All Star with Tampa Bay. “It was fun seeing those guys before the game. After that, I was locked in.”
Kazmir estimated his velocity was in the low-to-mid 90s. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game that Kazmir left the Angels topping out at 86 mph on his fastball.
“You want (Kazmir) to do well,” Scioscia said. “What he went through was awful. I thought he looked great. The ball was really coming out of his hand a lot better than when we last saw him. At times he showed flashes with us.”
Kazmir was dealt to the Angels in late August of 2009 and went 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA in six games. His struggles began in 2010 when he went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA. He was released after making just one outing in 2011.
“He kept his changeup in the zone,” Francona said. “I thought he threw well.”
Prior to the game, Francona told reporters: ”(Kazmir) came in ready. He knew he had to come in and compete and he’s been a pleasure to watch. The ball has been coming out of his hand from day one.”
Kazmir’s chances of sticking with the Indians appear better with each start, but he would not comment on his status.
“I’m just focused on what I need to and to get better,” Kazmir said. ”(From his time with the Angels) it’s a night-and-day difference. I’m a completely different pitcher. The velocity is different, from about 10 mph.
“I’m a lot more confident out there,” he added. ”(With the Angels) I would try anything to get it to click. It just wasn’t there.”
One of the Angels’ players Kazmir kept in touch with was ace Jered Weaver, who fanned six and worked four scoreless innings in his third spring outing (his second Cactus League game; he pitched one game against Team Italy).
“I texted (Kazmir) and wished him luck,” said Weaver, who allowed three hits and two walks. “He worked his butt off coming back. He was more smooth. It looks like he trusts his stuff now.”
Weaver went 21-5 with the Angels in 2012 and will be their opening-day starter.
“My changeup was good,” he said. “I wanted to mix in some off-speed pitches.”
Weaver allowed consecutive singles to Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley to start the first, but ended up striking out Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi to end the inning.
Angels long reliever Jerome Williams allowed five hits in five innings with six strikeouts. He worked out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the tie, getting Ryan Raburn and Cord Phelps on a ground outs with runners in scoring position.
Bourn was the only player to have two hits in the game.
NOTES: The Angels sent LHP Brandon Sisk, CF Tranvis Witherspoon and RHP A.J. Schugel to their minor-league camp. ... The Indians sent OF Tim Fedroff, RHPs Trey Haley, Danny Salazar and Chen-Chang Lee and LHP T.J. House to Triple-A. Non-roster invitees Matt LaPorta, Fernando Nieve and Roberto Perez were optioned to minor league camp. The Tribe granted outfielder Ben Francisco his unconditional release. The Yankees then signed him to a minor league deal. ... Angels projected closer Ryan Madson threw 20 pitches from the mound at the team’s training facility in Tempe Monday. It was Madson’s first pitches from the mound since he felt elbow soreness on Feb. 1. Madson missed all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery. He was initially projected to be ready to pitch in a game by mid-April.