Joaquin Benoit nearing a return to the Padres

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Padres closer Joaquin Benoit threw a side session on Sunday afternoon and is expected to throw one more on Tuesday before a likely activation from the disabled list, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Benoit has been sidelined since August 27 with inflammation in his right shoulder.

It’s unclear if the Padres will ease Benoit back into the closer’s role or simply throw him back into the ninth inning. The club has been on a losing skid, having dropped nine of their last 11 contests. As a result, they haven’t had much need for a closer, but Kevin Quackenbush has racked up a pair while Benoit has been out.

Benoit owns a sterling 1.58 ERA with a 60/14 K/BB ratio and nine saves on the season. He assumed the closer’s role after the Padres sent Huston Street to the Angels on July 19.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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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.