Hang around the majors for 10 or so years, and you're bound to pick up something. And often, beyond just on the playing field.
Scott Kazmir, the Dodgers' newest addition to their stable of left-handed starters, is the latest to add that current fad among players -- sadly for the Dodgers, popularized by Zack Greinke -- adding an opt-out clause to his new contract.
Kazmir, who turns 32 this month, signed a three-year, $48-million contract with the Dodgers last week that included an opt-out clause after the first season.
"From a business perspective, I think it's always good to have options," Kazmir said Tuesday in a conference call.
"That being said, I would be honored to finish my career as a Dodger."
So he picked up some political skills too. Kazmir said from an initial pool of about 12 teams, it got down to three or four. He did not say whether the Dodgers' offer of an opt-out played a decisive role in his decision. The free-agent starting pitching group is considered weak after next season.
Kazmir has been around, and around, the majors. He was so awful with the Angels in 2010 (9-15, 5.94 ERA) they sent him to the minors after the following spring training and then released him.
"Definitely a low point," he said.
Kazmir said he had picked up several bad mechanical habits adjusting to various injuries and it had affected his velocity. What he had not picked up was inkling to walk away.
"I never felt like that," he said. "I always had motivation just because I knew it was still in there.
"It was a frustrating time. I knew I was capable of getting back. It was just a long process."
Kazmir made stops with the Sugar Land Skeets in the independent Atlantic League and the Puerto Rico winter leagues before signing a minor league contract with Cleveland after the spring of 2013 and earning the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation.
"I feel like I've been getting better ever since," he said.
After he went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA with the Indians, he signed a two-year contract with the A's. In 2014 he went a career-best 15-9 with a 3.55 ERA. Last season he was a combined 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA for the A's and Astros.
What he has never done, is pitched for a National League club. In interleague games, he has three hits in 26 at-bats (.115), without a walk.
"I'm in the batting cages now, trying to iron out that swing a little bit," he said.
Though he has a three-year deal, $8 million per year will be deferred in equal payments through 2021.
Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @stevedilbeck
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