Roy Oswalt has talked about an early retirement in the past, but yesterday agent Bob Garber told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that the 34-year-old right-hander is no longer thinking about calling it quits:
There’s been a rebirth. There’s been talk in the past about retiring, but that’s not even in the cards at this point. It’s a different Roy. It’s a different feeling for him right now. He’s enjoying the game right now like he used to when he was younger. He’s definitely not retiring.
This has arguably been the worst season of Oswalt’s career, as he’s thrown just 133 innings after logging at least 180 every year since 2004 and has a 3.86 ERA that’s his second-highest. On the other hand, Zolecki notes that Oswalt “is feeling healthy after an ailing back sidelined him” and “has been rejuvenated pitching for the first-place Phillies.”
He’ll be Philadelphia’s fourth starter during the playoffs, which means his role may be minimal, and Zolecki expects the Phillies to decline their $16 million option on Oswalt for 2012. Since coming to the Phillies in the middle of last season Oswalt has thrown 216 innings with a 3.05 ERA and 162/53 K/BB ratio, so when the back isn’t barking he’s still a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson are also impending free agents, so Oswalt’s desire to remain in Philadelphia may be tested if he’s looking for a big payday.
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.