Matt Kemp returns after missing a start due to hamstring

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Matt Kemp is back playing center field and batting third for the Dodgers on Monday after taking a seat in Sunday’s loss to the Cubs. He’s been nursing a tight left hamstring.

Kemp did make an appearance Sunday to keep his consecutive games streak alive, flying out as a pinch-hitter. Tonight’s game will extend the streak to 393 games.

He talked about that on Sunday:

“The streak does mean something to me, to play every day, but still I don’t want to do something stupid to put my teammates in a situation where they lose me for one or two weeks,” he said. “It could be only one day and maybe this is the day and I can get back to play San Francisco. It feels weird watching the team play.”

Tony Gwynn Jr. went 0-for-3 in Kemp’s place Sunday as the Dodgers lost 4-3 to the Cubs.

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.