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Kazmir excited to face ex-teammates in first start

OAKLAND -- When Scott Kazmir began his comeback bid with the Indians last season, following a two-year layoff from the Majors, the lefty had few weapons in his pocket. He simply got by on his fastball.

Not anymore. Oakland's new southpaw will take a slew of secondary pitches to the mound for his A's debut Tuesday, which just so happens to come against his former Tribe club.

"I went into my last spring start throwing all of my pitches and having success with them," Kazmir said Monday. "I'm more confident knowing I have a lot more pitches that I now feel comfortable with."

Kazmir dined with a handful of ex-teammates Sunday night, including Nick Swisher, and fully expects them to mess with him come Tuesday. But Oakland's $22 million offseason prize isn't budging.

"They know me. I know them," said Kazmir, 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts for Cleveland last year. "It's more of a cat-and-mouse game now. They know my tendencies, and for the most part, I know their tendencies. It's going to be a game of adjustments, I think. It's going to be fun out there, for sure. I know they're going to try to get to me while I'm up on the mound, try to take away from my focus, but I'll just be locked in. I can't even stare at them because they're a bunch of jokesters over there."

Kazmir sees a similar group in the A's clubhouse, albeit much younger collectively. He's considered one of the elder members at age 30 and has been assigned veteran Bartolo Colon's old locker in Oakland's home clubhouse.

It's where he always envisioned landing at some point.

"Pretty much my whole career facing the A's, it was a team I admired," he said. "I loved the way they went about their business, and I love the way they play the game. It's something that's an honor to play for a team like that."

The Indians kept close watch on Kazmir's workload last year and got 158 innings out of him. The reins will be looser this year.

"Getting that bulk of innings," he said, "I see myself making a big jump from that and being comfortable doing that throughout the entire year."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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