Joel Pineiro did not pitch last season and was last seen in the Majors in 2011, but the right-hander is on the comeback trail. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that Pineiro has been pitching in Puerto Rico during the off-season and he’ll make a start against a Cuban team on Tuesday.
“I have had 11 years in the big leagues, so I’m not complaining, but I’m not ready to shut it down,” he said. “I’m 35 and I told my wife this would be my last real push at it. I have four kids, my oldest is in middle school, but I still have the desire and love for the game.”
Pineiro is now 35 years old and struggled to miss bats in his last stint in the Majors in 2011 with the Angels. However, he had two decent seasons prior to that, and it wouldn’t be unheard of if he came back with a little left in the tank. In what seems to be the year of the comeback — Mark Mulder, for example, is attempting a comeback with the Angels after a five-year layoff — now is as good a time as ever for Pineiro to revive his playing career.
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.