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After winning silver in Olympics, Kazmir returns to Giants

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Scott Kazmir

SAN DIEGO -- When Scott Kazmir was designated for assignment the first week of June, it didn't take away from what he already had accomplished. Kazmir was out of the big leagues for five years, but at the age of 37 he made an unlikely comeback and started a couple of games for the Giants. 

It was an incredible story. It also turned out that he wasn't anywhere close to being done writing it. 

When the Giants let him go, Kazmir immediately became part of the staff for the United States Olympic baseball team, and he came back from Tokyo with a silver medal. Six weeks later, Kazmir is once again back in the big leagues, poised to make one of the biggest starts of the season for the Giants. He was brought back from Triple-A to start Wednesday night's game at Petco Park. 

"It's been a crazy year, a very eventful year," Kazmir said Tuesday. "I don't think I would have ever thought I would be in this position. It's all good, I love every moment of it. It's been a great experience, every little bit of it."

This is a journey that has taken wild turns every step of the way, but the Olympic trip actually wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. Kazmir played in a junior nationals tournament 20 years ago and kept in touch with a member of USA Baseball over the years. Two years ago, he expressed a desire to be part of the team at the 2020 games.

 

"It just all worked out," he said. "We were in talks right before I got called up (by the Giants) the first time and then right after I got DFA'd they reached out and it was the right time."

The trip to Tokyo meant competitive baseball, but it didn't necessarily allow him to stay on turn waiting for the Giants to bring him back again. Kazmir went about three weeks without appearing in a game before the Olympics, and when he returned it was a couple more weeks. He said it has been "an uphill battle" to keep his body ready this late in the season, but he felt great about the way he was throwing in Triple-A. 

In his final two starts for the Sacramento River Cats, Kazmir gave up five earned over 12 innings and struck out 11.

"He's been pitching really well in Triple-A for us and we've been looking for an opportunity for him," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's earned it. He's been pretty gritty and resilient through all of this. The velocity has been good, the changeup has been executed in the zone, and he's just been an effective pitcher. We know that when Scott is at his best he can really help us."

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Kazmir said it wasn't at all difficult to wait for this latest opportunity. The Giants essentially had him on hold the last week as they saw how their pitching played out, and Kazmir said he fully understood. When he finally arrived, he didn't come empty handed. Kazmir carries that silver medal with him just about everywhere he goes and said he has shown it to a lot of teammates over the last month. There's just one problem. 

"I can't wear it too long, it's too heavy," he said. "I was trying to wear it for the closing ceremony but by the time I got off the bus I took it off and put it in my pocket because it's heavy."

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