Rick Peterson and Scott Kazmir, two people Mets fans thought they'd never see together again, walked out of a yoga studio in Manhattan last month, looking for a place to play catch. Peterson suggested a park before coming to his senses. "We can't," he said with a laugh. "Somebody could walk by." For Mets fans it would have been like spotting Brad and Jen lunching at the Ivy. Five years ago, when Peterson was pitching coach and Kazmir the team's top pitching prospect, New York sent the lefty to Tampa Bay for pitcher Victor Zambrano, a regrettable deal. Many fans made Peterson the scapegoat.
Clearly, Kazmir never bought into that theory. After going on the DL on May 22 with a strained right quad—and a 7.69 ERA—he returned to the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, where Peterson had brought him in 2004 for biomechanical analysis of his motion. Kazmir underwent another exam and called Peterson, who does not currently work for a team but is one of the few people in baseball who can interpret ASMI results.
Kazmir had lost velocity and command, due largely to a stiff front hip and a misaligned delivery. He and Peterson met at a high school field in Wall, N.J., and Peterson put him through drills designed to help him regain his old rhythm. (Peterson also had him watch his throwing motion in a mirror at that yoga studio.) The coach then gave Kazmir a workout regimen to follow.
It is unorthodox for a pitcher to consult a coach outside his organization in-season, but Peterson and Kazmir made sure to get the blessing from Rays G.M. Andrew Friedman and pitching coach Jim Hickey. After working with Peterson, Kazmir told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "It's making my delivery simple, having a good rhythm. It feels like I'm just letting go." In two starts since coming off the DL, Kazmir has allowed three earned runs in 10 innings. Meanwhile, Peterson has launched a business, 3PSports.com, with former Mets G.M. Jim Duquette and pitchers Tom Glavine and Al Leiter. They offer amateur and pro pitchers access to biomechanical analysis and workout programs.
In a way, Kazmir was their first customer.
RICH PILLING/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (PETERSON)
RAY OF LIGHT Peterson (right) helped get Kazmir back on track.
J. MERIC/GETTY IMAGES (KAZMIR)
[See caption above]