ANAHEIM — Figuratively speaking, Scott Kazmir says he’s in a good place.
The veteran pitcher made a rare appearance in a major league clubhouse Wednesday. He will not pitch for the Dodgers in the Freeway Series, or likely anytime soon. Less than 48 hours removed from his first competitive start since spring training, Kazmir was surprised by the usual day-after soreness in his left arm. He planned to stick around Angel Stadium and throw a bullpen session for Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on Thursday. There were better places to be.
But consider how Kazmir’s season has gone so far. He struggled with a hip injury early in spring training. In his final spring appearance, Kazmir needed 66 pitches to get through three innings. Half missed the strike zone. His fastball speed sat in the 82- to 84-mph range, about 10 mph below normal for the 33-year-old left-hander.
Monday, in his first rehabilitation start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Kazmir said his last fastball touched 92 mph.
Kazmir’s final line – three innings, four hits, one run allowed, no strikeouts – was neither disappointing nor dominant. The first batter he faced lofted a cut fastball for a home run; Kazmir said in hindsight that he was throwing too timidly when the game began. That changed after the home run.
There was reason to be impressed by Kazmir’s velocity. After spring training ended, Kazmir visited the Driveline Baseball facility in Kent, Wash., for a 2- to 3-week training program designed to increase speed. He returned to Dodger Stadium in late April to throw a bullpen session for Honeycutt. Then he went back to Arizona and continued his progress in extended spring training.
By mid-June, Kazmir was comfortable enough in his velocity and mechanics to begin rehab.
Monday, he said, “I was holding back just a little bit to be able to really cement what I’m doing: throw strikes, attack the strike zone. That was the main goal this go-around. I felt like it was all around a very…