There has been much discussion this off-season in the Raysiverse about the disappearance of Scott Kazmir’s slider in 2008. In 2007 Kazmir threw a slider 17% of the time, but last year, that number was just 11%. Now we have some comments on “why” from the horse’s mouth. And we get some thoughts from the horse’s manager and there appears to be some disagreement.
Kazmir saw the problem with his slider as a mechanical issue and now that his arm feels great, he is not worried that the slider will come back to form with little effort…
“To be honest, it seems like it really is not going to be that big of a focus [in the spring],” Kazmir said. “It kind of felt like I was having trouble extending (my arm) and that’s why I wasn’t throwing it as much. Now that everything feels good and it feels like I’m getting out there with my fastball … it’s just going to kind of come back to me.”
On the other hand, Joe Maddon sees the problem as mental and that Kazmir needs to work on the pitch a lot this spring…
“He’s going to work on that all the time,” Maddon said. “It wasn’t as good last year. He struggled with it. He just struggled with the overall break and command of it.”…Maddon’s theory is that Kazmir lost the feel for the slider, and the necessary adjustments may not be as much physical (such as refining his delivery or changing where he stands on the rubber) as mental…”I think you’re going to see it again. I just don’t know when that epiphany is going to be that permits him to find that actual or absolute release point that permits him to do what he wants to do.
It is a little disconcerting to see the two on completely different pages when it comes to something this important. If Kazmir wants to regain his form and emerge as one of the top left-handed pitchers in the game, he will need that slider and he is going to need the confidence to throw it when he needs to. So if he needs to throw 50 sliders in a spring game to either find the feel or prove that he never lost it, so be it.
Tampa Bay Rays, Scott Kazmir disagree on why slider failed him, agree that he needs it back [St. Pete Times]