Angels release Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir's downward spiral with the Los Angeles Angels finally ended Wednesday when the team gave the left-hander his unconditional release, opting to swallow the $14.5 million they still owe him rather than return him to the active roster.

"Right now it's the best thing for (Kazmir). Hopefully he can get off that treadmill and restore his career because he was really struggling trying to get the ability to compete again, and I mean get his tools where he can compete again up here. He wasn't going in the right direction," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Kazmir, who had been placed on the disabled list after his first start of the season, was 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last year. After spending more than a month at extended spring training to try to regain the form that made him one of the best young pitchers in the game a few years ago, Kazmir struggled miserably during his minor league rehab stint.

Angels general manager Tony Reagins happened to be at Kazmir's most recent outing for Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday.

Kazmir was 0-5, allowed 30 runs in 15 1/3 innings and hit six batters in those five outings.

The Angels traded utilityman Sean Rodriguez and two minor leaguers for Kazmir in August 2009.

Kazmir, 27, led the American League in strikeouts in 2007, but he had lost all touch with his mechanics during his stay with the Angels. His velocity dipped and he lost his once-devastating slider.

"From where he was in August, September '09 when he came over and actually threw the ball well in spring training in '10 to where he is now is a very rapid decline," Scioscia said. "He's still young and I'm sure at some point we hope he can unlock that secret of where he needs to be."

The Angels replaced Kazmir in their rotation with 21-year-old right-hander Tyler Chatwood. They had until June 22 to release Kazmir or return him to the active roster.

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.