Scott Kazmir pitches poorly in start

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels might be reaching a point of no return with pitcher Scott Kazmir.

He embarked on his minor league rehab assignment Tuesday, after six weeks in extended spring training, and couldn't have pitched much worse. Against Triple-A Memphis, Kazmir allowed six runs on four walks, hit a batter and couldn't get out of the second inning in Salt Lake's 8-1 loss.

Afterward, Kazmir continued to sound baffled about his lack of velocity and mechanical inconsistency.

"It was kind of a flip of a coin if I was going to be able to get it over the plate," Kazmir said, in comments released by the Angels. "It really had no direction and no drive straight to the plate."

Kazmir, who is due to make $14.5 million this season including his $2.5 million buyout for next year, was placed on the 15-day disabled list after his first start for the Angels this season. The DL move was ostensibly due to some stiffness in his lower back, but the Angels admit it was more about his ineffectiveness.

The reports of Kazmir's velocity ranged between 84 and 90 mph, manager Mike Scioscia said. That's a far cry from the mid-90s velocity Kazmir had three or four years ago.

Kazmir can remain at Triple-A for as long as 30 days while on a rehab assignment. After that, the Angels have to decide if he'll pitch for them again or if they'll release him.

"We're anticipating him starting to come around and be more consistent with the way he's pitching. It's not happening," Scioscia said. "I don't think there's much sense getting frustrated with it. We need to support Scott and give him the opportunity to move forward and that's what we're going to do."

Kazmir, 27, was 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season, among the worst numbers for any starting pitcher in baseball. Kazmir led the American League with 239 strikeouts pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007, when he went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA. The Angels acquired the left-hander for Sean Rodriguez, Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney in August of 2009.

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.