Sandy Koufax was a surprise visitor to Camelback Ranch today. A surprise, at least, to some in the media room.
Koufax — who rarely gives interviews –blind-sided this member of the media by giving a brief interview in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, so we’ll credit Eric Stephen of truebluela.com for providing these words from the great lefty’s mouth:
On the Dodgers’ impending change in ownership:
“You’re sad to see it going through this kind of change. Change is inevitable, but this is not the normal way it happens.”
On whether Clayton Kershaw (Koufax watched Kershaw’s bullpen session Friday) has a ceiling:
“No. How do you make up a ceiling? His only ceiling is time. How long he will play, you don’t know. But as far as talent is concerned, no.
“If he’s as good as I think he’s going to be, I’m honored.”
The comparison is merited by Kershaw’s 2011 season alone: a 21-5 record, 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts, the NL Triple Crown and Cy Young Award. Koufax has three Cy Youngs and three Triple Crowns – including the last by any Dodger pitcher in 1966. At least Kershaw has plenty of time to catch up. He’s only 23.
But back in 2008, former Dodgers manager Joe Torre granted everyone permission to compare the two by doing so himself, the first time he saw Kershaw pitch. Mattingly addressed that comparison Friday.
“When you start comparing Clayton with Koufax and he’s just starting out, it’s not fair because there’s a learning curve,” Mattingly said. “It’s not fair to have that expectation. You expect him to be better and allow them to make their own mistakes along the way.
“In the sense now, Clayton’s kind of established himself. Now it’s a test of time. That kind of greatness comes over time, comes over a career.”
Plus, Kershaw’s maturity belies his age.
“Clayton, we don’t really worry about,” Mattingly said. “He’s one of the guys you don’t really worry about. I think Clayton puts a lot of pressure on himself already. That’s why he works hard. When he was really young it’s not fair because he was just starting out. Joe threw it out there and he was right. Or it’s got a good start to it.”