When the Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo and announced that he’d be playing center field this season there was a lot of skepticism about his ability to handle the position defensively at age 30 after starting just one game there since 2007.
And it turns out Choo is skeptical too, telling John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
I’m not comfortable there yet. At the major league level, I played 99 percent of my games in right field. I’ll try. I’ll work on it this spring training. We’ll see how they’re thinking. If they’re not [happy], somebody else will be playing in center field. I’ll try the best I can.
Not exactly the words Reds fans probably want to hear, although Choo is right in that if the team decides he simply can’t hack it in center field they could try to move Gold Glove-winning right fielder Jay Bruce there instead.
There’s no doubt that Choo and his excellent on-base skills will provide a huge boost to the Reds’ lineup, but with either Choo or Bruce in center field and 34-year-old Ryan Ludwick in left field the outfield defense could give back a bunch of runs.
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.