Juan Pierre is a beast

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I got to the Dbacks’ camp pretty early yesterday. Earlier than a lot of writers did. But almost all the players were there before I was. That’s just what they do this time of year  And one player — Juan Pierre — was at White Sox camp earlier than all of the other players are:

One of the hardest working players in baseball, this is how his day begins every morning during spring training. He’s a man with an internal clock that’s always ticking, ready to rock well before the rooster crows.

“It’s just a routine. Something I follow and believe in. It’s kept me around this long,” says the speedy White Sox outfielder, who stole a career-high 68 bases in 2010, his 11th in the big leagues and first on the South Side.

Nothing stops Pierre from his early morning ritual. Well, except for one thing: The front door.

And that’s because it’s locked. Pierre gets to the clubhouse before even the security guys get there. Before 6AM each day, ready to work his butt off.

There is a lot of false hustle in spring training. Guys who reported to camp early, maybe because they’re truly dedicated, but maybe because they were bored. Guys who show up early each day, maybe because they want to work like Pierre does, but maybe because they want to hang out in the clubhouse and read the paper and b.s. with the guys as they stroll in. The managers know who’s who, however. In this case the media seems to have figured it out too.

And in this case there’s an explanation for why Juan Pierre, for all of his deficiencies as a ballplayer, manages to put together a nice year every couple of years and why he always has the confidence of his managers and coaches. The dude works. And sometimes work makes up for everything.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.