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Kazmir scratched from Saturday start, 'perfect' return on hold

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

TORONTO -- Scott Kazmir loved the idea he was back, and he loved the way it was happening.

Kazmir's best years in the big leagues came with the Rays (and before that, the Devil Rays). And when he made it back to the big leagues this spring with the Indians, his first start was to come Saturday . . . at Tropicana Field.

"It was written perfect," Kazmir said Wednesday. "It just seems fitting."

Maybe this is fitting, too, given the way Kazmir's last few seasons have gone: Now he won't be starting Saturday, because when he felt something in his right side, the Indians decided to scratch him from that start.

They said they were just being cautious, and that Kazmir's bullpen session Wednesday had actually gone very well. They said it's probably nothing, and that Kazmir could pitch.

But they also said they're going to send him to Cleveland for tests, just to make sure.

"It just didn't seem to make sense [to pitch him]," manager Terry Francona said.

Francona didn't announce a starter for Saturday. He said the Indians expect to announce a decision by Thursday, when the Indians will likely put Kazmir on the disabled list.

Kazmir hasn't pitched in the big leagues since the opening week of the 2011 season. He hasn't pitched healthy, he said, since 2007 -- not even in 2008, when he helped the Rays to their one World Series.

By the end in Anaheim, his velocity had fallen off to the low 80 mph range. People kept asking if his arm hurt, but he said what had really happened was that all the other injuries had affected his delivery so much that he just couldn't throw the way he once did.

"It was almost like I was throwing underwater," Kazmir said.

This spring was different. The velocity was back. Scouts still weren't overly impressed, but the Indians needed a fifth starter and Kazmir won the job.

"I'm very excited," he said. "You can't even explain it in words. The best way to put it is that as soon as I wake up in the morning, I'm ready to go to the field."

He was especially excited about Saturday, because it was to be his return to the majors, and also his return to Tropicana Field. He almost couldn't believe that something he figured was small could now set him back.

"It's almost like, 'C'mon, give me a break,' " Kazmir said.

Based on the way he threw Wednesday, his return still isn't far away.

It just won't come Saturday. It just won't be as perfect.

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