Tigers demote longtime regular Ryan Raburn to Triple-A

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Ryan Raburn is 31 years old with 1,632 plate appearances and a .750 OPS in the majors, but a brutal start this season has him back at Triple-A.

Detroit decided it had seen enough after Raburn hit just .146 with an ugly 35/8 K/BB ratio in 37 games split between second base and the outfield, demoting the veteran making $2.1 million this season.

Manager Jim Leyland stressed to Jason Beck of MLB.com that “this is not a punishment” for Raburn and added that “we have to try to get him going.”

Beck reports that Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth will likely share second base duties in Raburn’s absence and the Tigers called up journeyman catcher Omir Santos from Triple-A to fill his roster spot.

This isn’t the first time Raburn’s slow start has led to the Tigers sending him to the minors, and in the past he’s generally responded well to the temporary demotions. Or as Raburn put it: “It’s just a matter of getting it going and getting back.”

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.