Kazmir hopes return to Texas is tonic

Kazmir hopes return to Texas is tonic

ANAHEIM -- Scott Kazmir knows that every start carries significance for a Major League pitcher, but that's especially the case when he's not performing to his standards.

"I need to get deeper in games than I have been," he said. "I need to get ahead of hitters and put them away."

It has been a restless start to 2010 for the gifted 26-year-old Angels southpaw, who returns to his native Texas -- he's a Houston man, born and raised -- to face Vladimir Guerrero and the Rangers on Monday night.

Kazmir, who is 2-2 with a 6.82 ERA while averaging five innings per start, has been working diligently to recover his former, over-the-top delivery after letting it slip to a three-quarters motion to compensate for elbow pain during the 2007 season. Pitching coach Mike Butcher has been monitoring those efforts in bullpen sessions.

"At times, he's pitched good baseball this year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "At times, he's struggled. The only thing pivotal would be if a guy would need time to work on things. We need Scott to get out there and find it. We're very confident he's going to do that.

"When you talk about release point with pitchers, you're talking about basics. This is something he's searching for -- sometimes in the wrong cupboard. He's a young veteran with a lot of upside. His talent is there. He doesn't have to reinvent himself. He's just gotten away from a simple release point that was very natural for him. Butch is working very hard with him to get his stuff where it can play."

Kazmir had one of his best outings last season in Arlington, beating the Rangers, 2-0, with six scoreless innings, yielding six hits and no walks while striking out five men. He did it with fastball command, still looking for the elusive slider that helped make him a two-time All-Star in Tampa Bay. He's 3-1, 2.03 in five starts at Rangers Ballpark and 6-1, 2.05 in 10 career outings against Texas.