Johan Santana’s comeback with the Orioles continues chugging along, as the rehabbing left-hander tossed four innings in an extended spring training game Thursday.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter declined to tell Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com exactly how fast Santana was throwing after previous reports had him in the high-80s last week, but he did say that the two-time Cy Young winner “threw the ball well” and the velocity was the “highest he’s been.”
According to Ghiroli he’ll likely make one more extended spring training appearance and then begin a minor-league rehab assignment, which would start a 30-day clock on his ETA in Baltimore (barring a setback). Santana hasn’t pitched in the majors since August of 2012, so he’s hardly assured of making an impact for the Orioles, but he could be an option as a starter or a reliever.
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.