MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch had the awful news first:
The MRI on RHP Ivan Nova last night has revealed a partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. He will be placed on the disabled list today and will be further examined tomorrow in New York by Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad.
A torn UCL (even a partially-torn one) pretty much always leads to Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, which would sideline Nova through the early part of the 2015 season. He posted an impressive 3.10 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings last summer for the Yankees but had surrendered 32 hits and 19 earned runs in 20 2/3 frames this year.
The 27-year-old joins a long list of high-profile pitchers who have suffered torn elbow ligaments in 2014. Some of those names: Matt Moore of the Rays, Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks, Kris Medlen of the Braves, Jarrod Parker of the A’s, Brandon Beachy of the Braves, and Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon.
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.