Scott Kazmir throws for scouts, looks pretty good

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Scott Kazmir threw a B game this morning here in Goodyear. On hand were scouts from multiple teams including the Rangers, Cubs, Brewers and Padres. Terry Francona and multiple Indians officials came out to the back field to watch as well.

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The results: with the GIGANTIC caveat that I’m no scout, I’d say he looked pretty good. His fastball was sitting in the low 90s, mostly at 91-92.  The purpose of the game, however, was for him to work on breaking and offspeed stuff. Like, Kazmir specifically asked for the game for that reason. As far as that goes, he did seem to have a bit of trouble locating his breaking stuff early, but he was getting a lot of swings and misses, striking out four of the first six batters he faced, three of them swinging.

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As Kazmir was winding down I talked to one of the scouts. He thought Kazmir looked good and agreed with me that his velocity was nice, especially compared to where he was a year or two ago. As for the breaking stuff: yes, some issues with location, but the scout liked the deception. Especially his slider, which really had nice movement. And obviously deception is the name of the game.

All told, I think this was a good outing for Kazmir. Whether that means he gets a job on the Indians or becomes trade bait isn’t clear, but given where he was not too long ago, it was a pretty encouraging morning.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.