On Tuesday night, Scott Kazmir will be trying to grind Cleveland bats into dust in his first-ever start for the A’s.
On Sunday night, the Oakland left-handed pitcher was sitting down at dinner with a group of those same Indians hitters, including Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnes, two of Cleveland’s most productive batsmen.
Kazmir clearly enjoyed his year in Cleveland, where he resuscitated a career that had hit the skids during a tour of duty in Anaheim. His fastball came back. His control came back. His confidence came back.
More than anything, after he’d been out of baseball a year earlier, his suitors came back. The A’s won the offseason auction to procure his services, putting up a two-year, $22 million package to get the deal done.
In his first start for Oakland, it will be a test to see just how closely he watched the Indians’ hitters during his season with the Tribe.
“As a starting pitcher, you pretty much have to learn your own hitters,’’ Kazmir said Monday. “You’re sitting there as a cheerleader and that’s just what you do. I know their tendencies pretty well, I think.’’
Of course, it’s a two-way street.
“They had a year of watching how I pitch,’’ Kazmir said. “I don’t think I’ll be catching them by surprise.’’
He won’t be. In fact, the Indians are looking forward to it.
“you have to be professional about it,’’ Kipnes said. “You know you’re going up against a friend, but he’s not going to take it lightly, and neither are we. We’re still competing.
“He’ll get a smile from me in the (batter’s) box. I’m sure there will be something going on when Swish gets in the box.’’