Scott Kazmir appears to be the front-runner for Cleveland’s fifth starter spot

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I noted the general enthusiasm surrounding Scott Kazmir when I was at Indians camp last week. Now a guy who is at Indians camp every day notes that this enthusiasm has grown to the point where, in his view, the fifth starter’s spot on the Tribe is Kazmir’s to lose. Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal:

Francona has offered few hints as to which way he is leaning, if he’s leaning at all. The only clue that he might favor one pitcher over another is his continuous glowing praise for Kazmir, virtually from the first time he threw a ball in camp. And Kazmir certainly seems like the front-runner, even if one disregards Francona’s tributes.

One just needs to look at the numbers. Kazmir has pitched three times in exhibition games and one B-game against minor leaguers. He hasn’t allowed any runs and his peripherals look solid. Granted it hasn’t all been against top opposition, but his velocity and control looks good.

Kazmir could flame out again and, if he does, the Indians haven’t really lost a thing. But if he’s even an average starter in 2013 it’s a huge boon to them. And to him too.

 

Shohei Ohtani will undergo Tommy John surgery once the season ends

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The Angels announced on Tuesday that P/DH Shohei Ohtani will undergo Tommy John surgery during the first week of the offseason (next week). The surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. The Angels don’t have a timetable for Ohtani’s recovery yet but will provide more information when it becomes available.

Ohtani, 24, underwent an MRI earlier this month which showed new damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He decided to play out most of the remainder of the season before making a decision. While Ohtani certainly wouldn’t be able to pitch next year, the Angels are confident that he will still be able to function as a full-time DH with no issues.

Ohtani had an outstanding first season in the majors. He hit .280/.361/.564 with 21 home runs, 56 RBI, 55 runs scored, and nine stolen bases in 347 plate appearances. As a pitcher, he posted a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 22 walks in 51 2/3 innings across 10 starts.

The Angels have five games left this season, all at home. They have two more against the Rangers, are off Thursday, then wrap up the season with a three-game set with the Athletics.