Philip Humber has struggled mightily since throwing a perfect game on April 21, posting a 7.21 ERA in 14 starts while spending some time on the disabled list, and the White Sox have decided to demote him to the bullpen while ditching their brief six-man rotation.
Humber took the demotion in stride, mostly because he refused to call it a demotion:
I don’t think that going to the bullpen is a demotion. That’s disrespectful to the guys who are in the bullpen to say, “I’m good enough to start.” Well, I’m hoping I’m good enough to be in the bullpen. That’s the attitude I take as far as whatever role I’m given, whenever they give me the ball, I’m going to do the best I can with it.
Humber went from prospect bust to solid mid-rotation starter for the White Sox last season and obviously this year’s perfect game led to optimism about his long-term value, but right now he’s 29 years old with a 4.70 ERA in 302 career innings.
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.