Jedd Gyorko starting at shortstop for first time in pro ball

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The Padres’ lineup has a different look for tonight’s game against the Braves, as Corey Brock of MLB.com notes that Jedd Gyorko is making the start at shortstop.

This is notable because Gyorko has never played shortstop as a professional. That’s right, not in the majors or the minors. He has almost exclusively played either second base or third. However, the Padres are looking at alternatives to Alexi Amarista and his .553 OPS, so they are willing to take some chances with their alignment even though it might not be pretty. You might recall that Will Middlebrooks has even made some starts at shortstop this season.

The Padres had a “shortstop of the future” in prospect Trea Turner, but they traded him to the Nationals as the player-to-be-named-later in the three-team Wil Myers deal. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported last month that the Padres tried to get Turner back in a deal for Craig Kimbrel, but obviously nothing came of it. You can bet that shortstop will be on A.J. Preller’s wish list this offseason.

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.