After returning to the United States over the weekend — and receiving three birthday cakes from his teammates — Roberto Hernandez made his first minor league rehab start tonight for Class A Lake County.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer passes along word that Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, allowed three runs (one earned) over five innings. He struck out four and walked none while throwing 46 out of 66 pitches for strikes.
Hernandez was arrested in his native Dominican Republic in January for falsifying his identity. He reached a deal in March to have the charges dropped in exchange for completing a work program and re-worked his contract with the Indians in hopes of avoiding a punishment from MLB. However, he is currently serving a three-week suspension.
Hernandez is eligible to return from his suspension on August 11, so he is currently lined up for two more tune-up starts.
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.