Kazmir throws five innings in Minor League game

Kazmir throws five innings in Minor League game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- While the Indians played the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday, left-hander Scott Kazmir continued his push for a spot in Cleveland's rotation in a Minor League game back at the team's player development complex.

Kazmir turned in five innings of four-run ball against a Class A team from Texas' farm system and finished with 77 pitches, 54 for strikes. The left-hander gained a feel for his slider and appeared to grow stronger as his pitch count climbed.

"He was kind of battling it the first few innings," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "I thought the last two, his slider was a lot better. He was just trying to get his arm going."

Kazmir is currently battling Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Daisuke Matsuzaka for the fifth spot in the Tribe's starting staff. Through 16 spring innings, which includes three Cactus League appearances and a pair of Minor League starts, Kazmir has allowed four runs -- all Sunday -- on 16 hits with 18 strikeouts and three walks.

Kazmir gave up four runs Sunday on eight hits with five strikeouts, one walk and one wild pitch. He consistently sat around 88-92 mph with his fastball and created 13 missed swings in the last two innings compared to none in his first three frames. Kazmir was also victimized by a handful of missed plays on defense that would have likely been outs with the big league team.

Kazmir was only scheduled to throw four innings, but was able to build up to five after needing just 13 pitches to breeze through his second and third frames. Callaway was encouraged by how Kazmir ended his outing and that the lefty approached 80 pitches.

"That was perfect," Callaway said. "He feels really good and obviously the life on his fastball was still good in that last inning. That's what we're looking for."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.