Joel Zumaya cleared to begin throwing program

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Tom Gage of the Detroit News brings us some good news about Tigers setup man Joel Zumaya.

Dr. James Andrews took a look at Zumaya’s ailing right elbow on Wednesday afternoon and found nothing structurally out of place, so the Tigers cleared him to begin a throwing program.

Zumaya will start with games of catch, then he’ll move on to bullpen sessions. He’ll finish up with a simulated game and a minor league rehab appearance or two. It’s a rehab schedule that should take around two weeks to complete.

“The scan showed good range of motion, good strength, and Joel has been allowed to begin a light-toss program,” Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said Thursday. “He’ll throw at 60 feet for the next 5-6 days, then report back to Dr. Andrews about how he feels. We’ll just have to see how it goes in the next week.”

The Tigers were hoping — and still are hoping — to use Zumaya as a seventh inning mainstay this season behind eighth inning setup man Ryan Perry and ninth inning closer Jose Valverde.

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.