Johan Santana: whoever says I’m not going to pitch this year “is lying”

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On Saturday Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record reported that Johan Santana’s rehab has not been progressing well and that Mets sources are concerned that he may not pitch at all in 2011.  The team refuted that report yesterday.  But in today’s Daily News, Santana refutes it even more strongly:

“I don’t know who’s saying that I’m not ready or whatever because according to everything, the way it has been done, we’re right on the right track and where we’re supposed to be. Whoever is saying that I’m not ready I think is lying.”

If this were any other team we’d probably be obligated to give the benefit of the doubt, but it’s the Mets we’re talking about here.  Yes, they’re under new management, but they are coming off a recent run of being less-than-forthcoming when it comes to injuries so some trust needs to be regained before we simply take their word for it.

Indeed, last year at this time the Mets were refuting my report that Kelvim Escobar was seriously hurt, insisting that he merely had a “tired shoulder” and would be pitching any day. Indeed, Johan Santana himself was one of the people quoted as saying that Escobar was throwing the ball well and that his rehab from a winter injury was coming along nicely. That turned out to not be the case.

I’m hoping that the Sandy Alderson regime has put an end to the propaganda and I’m hoping that Popper and Klapisch merely spoke to someone with bad information because life is better when Johan Santana is pitching than when he is not. At present, however, I’d be wary of taking the Mets or Santana’s claims about his rehab at face value and would prefer to be pleasantly surprised if and when he takes the mound this year.

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.