Cleveland Indians reclamation project Scott Kazmir should be considered a favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year award this season

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Scott Kazmir will be a lasting force for the Indians in 2013.

Easily outperforming Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal reports Cleveland Indians reclamation project Scott Kazmir will likely be named the team’s fifth starter.

The 29-year-old Kazmir, a two-time All-Star selection who signed a minor league contract with Cleveland in December, has fanned 13 batters and is yet to allow a run in 11 innings this spring between Cactus League outings and “B” appearances.

Kazmir, who is 66-61 with a 4.17 ERA since debuting as a professional with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in August 2004, hasn’t pitched in the majors since getting fired by the Los Angeles Angels in June 2011.

As the American League strikeout king in 2007, the southpaw, with a fastball now clocked around 91-92 mph, inexplicably lost his velocity and command overnight.

Despite posting an unsightly 5.54 ERA over his final four years on the mound, Indians manager Terry Francona gambled on the cooled flamethrower and has raved about Kazmir’s showings on the hill.

“I was pleased that first day, but I told you guys not to get excited,” said Francona, 53, who became Cleveland’s 42nd manager in October and guided the Boston Red Sox to championships in the 2004 and 2007 seasons. “He came in ready to go. The question was whether he could hold it. And it’s been exciting.”

Considering the hurler is still young and Cleveland went a porous 68-94 in 2012, Kazmir should be an “exciting” player for Indians fans to watch throughout the spring and into the summer months.

Employed by an organization that hasn’t captured a World Series title since 1948, Scott Kazmir is “ready to go” and don’t be shocked if the castoff morphs into a Comeback Player of the Year candidate on the diamond this season.

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