Oakland A's

A’s Scott Kazmir pleased with spring debut

MESA, Ariz. -- A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir walked the first batter of his Cactus League debut Thursday and two in the first inning and said afterward he was “amped up a little bit more than normal.”

“Maybe because Will (Ferrell) was there,” Kazmir said of the actor who was playing shortstop behind him. “I had to show out.”

It may also have been that Kazmir finally got into a game after three simulated outings this spring and nearly a week and a half of Cactus League play. Either way, he settled down to escape that first-inning jam thanks in part to a pair of strikeouts, and afterward sounded pleased with his 2 2/3 innings of work against the Seattle Mariners.

Kazmir struck out two more batters in a 1-2-3 second inning before encountering some trouble with one out in the third. Austin Jackson tripled, Justin Ruggiano and Stefen Romero both singled, and Nelson Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Ruggiano and end Kazmir’s day.

Kazmir said he started to tire a little bit in the third inning, but that physically, “that’s right where I need to be” at this point in spring. Overall, he said: “I felt great, actually.”

"I thought his stuff was really good," manager Bob Melvin said. "Good, sharp slider. Good command of his fastball. Threw some good changeups. Got him to where we wanted pitch-count wise -- we wanted to get him 45 and he was at 47. So all good with him."

The simulated games are something Kazmir prefers early in spring before pitching in games, so he can work on developing his pitches without worrying about situations. He said his changeup wasn’t very consisent in his three simulated games, and that Thursday he “babied” one on Jackon’s triple but also "threw some good ones. Besides that, everything felt like I was at fastball arm speed and really letting it go.”

Last season, Kazmir logged his most innings (190 1/3) in a season since 2007, and he experienced a phase after the All-Star break where he "just felt like it wasn’t all there." But he said his strength started to come back toward the end of the season, and that, "finishing the year, it felt good."

This year, Kazmir said he’s ready to shoulder the load as the likely No. 2 starter in the rotation behind Sonny Gray. And he’s prepared to be a mentor to the younger pitchers vying for the open spots on the starting staff, about whom he had high praise.

"They’ve been awesome," Kazmir said. "This is probably the best core, depth-wise, of arms that I’ve ever been a part of. Through the trades or draft, coming up in the system, what we have now is pretty impressive."

* There was more news on the injury front Thursday. Ike Davis is expected to be out until at least Sunday after being scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with back spasms. Davis was originally supposed to go with the split-squad team the A’s are sending to Las Vegas for games Friday and Saturday, but was scratched from that list as well.

Outfielder Alex Hassan has a hamstring injury and will also miss "a few days," Melvin said. That makes three of the A’s seven 40-man outfielders out with injuries -- also Coco Crisp (triceps) and Josh Reddick (oblique) -- and Melvin said the A’s will be calling up minor leaguers to fill out both of their split squads the next two days.

Minor-league infielder Rangel Ravelo, meanwhile, will have surgery on his right wrist on Friday, Melvin said. Rangelo, acquired in the Jeff Samardzija trade, had an issue with the wrist over the offseason, was cleared for spring, but re-aggravated it, Melvin said.

* With all the hoopla surrounding Ferrell, there wasn’t much excitement in the game until the A’s ninth-inning rally. Designated hitter Bryan Anderson tied it with an RBI double, and minor-league outfielder Kent Matthes won it with a broken-bat single to right.

Minor-league infielder Joey Wendle, acquired from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade, tripled in his lone at-bat and is now 6-for-13 this spring. The A’s got Wendle believing he could hit, but Melvin said Wendle has been doing a lot of extra work on defense with infielders coach Mike Gallego, who "feels really good about (Wendle) defensively, too."

"He’s going to get some opportunities when we’re in Vegas," Melvin said.

* The pitching plans for the next two days: Drew Pomeranz will pitch for the A’s in Las Vegas on Friday, with Chris Bassitt starting against the Royals in Surprise. On Saturday, Jesse Hahn will start in Vegas and Jesse Chavez will pitch against the Giants in Mesa. Melvin is going on the Vegas trip; bench coach Mike Aldrete will manage the games in Arizona.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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