Struggling Scott Kazmir is going on the disabled list with a “back injury”

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Scott Kazmir may have just reached Oliver Perez territory.

According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, the Angels have placed former phenom left-hander Scott Kazmir on the 15-day disabled list with lower back stiffness. Matt Palmer was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake and will replace him in the starting rotation, at least in the short-term.

“It’s just lower-back tightness, nothing out of the ordinary,” Kazmir said. “It’s very frustrating. I just did a couple things to change my delivery, and it ended up stiffening up on me.”

I’m not going to say this injury isn’t legitimate, but considering that he’s coming off the worst start of his career, the timing is curious to say the least.

As we learned with Perez last season, the Angels can only keep Kazmir on a rehab assignment for so long. Because Kazmir has more than five years of service time, he has the right to refuse a minor league assignment. If the Angels were to cut him loose, they would be responsible for his $12 million salary for this season and the $2.5 million buyout on his option for 2012.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.