If you were at Dodger Stadium last July 14, this memory was probably burned in your hippocampus:
The man commanding the most attention at the Dodgers’ camp is also the least comfortable in the spotlight.
Through his work with the club’s pitchers, Sandy Koufax may prove himself to be a master mentor, Yoda and Mr. Miyagi rolled into one. But he’s never been one to embrace his celebrity. In that regard, this spring — even with Koufax donning a Dodger uniform for the first time in decades — is no different.
“It’s fun,” Koufax said during a brief media session Friday. “I’m having a good time. If I wasn’t having a good time, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
The press corps in Glendale hit “pause” Thursday on Eliezer Alfonzo Watch 2013 when the catcher was revealed to be suffering from dengue virus in his native Venezuela. He cannot travel for five to seven days. A non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract with the Dodgers, Alfonzo will report to the minor-league side when he gets here.
Alfonzo was the only player who had yet to report since pitchers and catchers were scheduled to arrive last week.
Matt Wallach hopped over from the Dodgers’ minor-league camp to fill out the major-league catching corps. The 27-year-old, the son of Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, has spent the past three seasons at Double-A.
Alfonzo was one of several veterans expected to push rookie Tim Federowicz for the open backup catcher’s job in spring. Wilkin Castillo, Jesus Flores and Ramon Castro are still around as non-roster invitees. Before camp opened, I stated that the biggest question surrounding Alfonzo was whether he could stay clean; now the question is if he can get healthy.
The skies cleared over Phoenix today after it rained, hailed, and apparently even snowed in parts of the valley Wednesday. A handful of bullet points to brighten your day:
Sandy Koufax is officially a Dodger again.
The greatest pitcher in franchise history has been appointed a special advisor to Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, the team announced Tuesday. Koufax will attend a portion of spring training to work with Dodgers’ pitchers and consult with the team throughout the year.
“I’m delighted to be back with the Dodgers,” Koufax said in a statement released by the team. “I’m looking forward to spending time with the team during Spring Training and to contributing in any way I can to help make the team a success for the fans of Los Angeles. Some of my most cherished memories came at Dodger Stadium.”
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.”