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Dave Roberts concerned with Scott Kazmir’s velocity

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Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir, battling hip stiffness, has been held out of Cactus League action for the past 10 days. He threw five simulated innings on Thursday, racking up 71 pitches and his fastball velocity sat at 82-83 MPH, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. The low velocity has manager Dave Roberts concerned, Plunkett adds.

Kazmir, 33, made 26 starts last year, finishing with a 4.56 ERA and a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings. He averaged 91.4 MPH on his fastball, which was actually his highest figure since 2013 when he returned to the majors with the Indians. That he’s only at 82-83 MPH more than halfway through spring training is rightly sounding alarm bells for Roberts.

The Dodgers’ starting rotation is not the most dependable when it comes to health. Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Alex Wood were all injured last season and are now vying for rotation consideration. Ace Clayton Kershaw made only 21 starts last season due to a back injury. No. 2 starter Rich Hill battled blister issues in the second half last year as well.

Nationals back off of minor league stipend cut

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Yesterday it was reported that the Washington Nationals would cut the weekly stipend paid to their minor leaguers from $400 a week to $300 per week through the end of June.

For frame of reference, MLB had agreed to pay all minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31. Several teams have agreed to extend that, with the Royals and Twins agreeing to do it all the way through the end of August. The Oakland A’s decided to stop the payments in their entirety as of today. The Nationals were unique in cutting $100 off of the checks.

The A’s and the Nationals have taken a great amount of flak for what they’ve done. The Nats move was immediately countered by Nationals major league players announcing that they would cover what the organization would not.

The A’s are, apparently, still sticking to their plan. The Nats, however, have reversed course:

One can easily imagine a situation in which Nats ownership just decided, cold-heartedly, to lop that hundred bucks off of each minor league check and not worry about a moment longer. What’s harder to imagine is what seems to have actually happened: the Nats did it without realizing that anyone would take issue with it, were surprised by the blowback, and then reversed course. Like, what kind of a bubble where they living in that they did not think people would consider that a low-rent thing to do?

In any event, good move, Nats, even if I cannot even begin to comprehend your thought process.