The Dodgers came to terms on contracts with both A.J. Ellis (1-year, $2 million) and Ronald Belisario (1-year, $1.45 million) on Friday. Both players avoided arbitration by signing, as Chad covered.
Austin Gallagher was released by the Dodgers. On Friday, he received a 50-game suspension from baseball for testing positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned substance. The team also released Edwin Contreras.
Sandy Koufax will return to the Dodgers organization as a special advisor to Mark Walter, and while the PR part of this is great and all, stuff like this is far more interesting:
More to the point of his new role, Koufax has the rare ability of translating mechanical themes and mental approach into simple language easily understood by pitchers young and old.
âFor our young players and our veterans to be able to tap Sandyâs expertise and counsel during Spring Training and throughout the season will provide yet another tremendous resource in our efforts to strengthen our club,â said general manager Ned Colletti.
Former Dodgers pitcher Josh Lindblom illustrated Koufaxâs teaching talents last spring while relating a bullpen session he had in 2010. With the usual pitching coaches offering tips from behind the mound, one noticed Lindblom struggling with his breaking ball release and offered some tips. Lindblom, focused on the plate and not turning around to face the coaches, tried to implement each suggestion.
âOne of them says, âImagine a bucket on home plate and throw the curveball into the bucket,ââ Lindblom recalled. âIt made sense at the time. So I spun the ball into the bucket. It worked. I turned around to see who it was, and I was like, âHoly smoke, itâs Sandy Koufax.â
âMy focus intensified when I realized it was a guy who had one of the best curveballs in history. I locked in and focused. And when I struggle, I still think about that and another thing he said â âSee how many times the ball spins before it gets to the plate. That makes you really focus on snapping it off.â
âYou hear stories about hitters saying they could hear the laces spinning on Koufaxâs fastball. He sees two pitches and makes a suggestion and you make an adjustment that quickly. Heâs great at simplifying things. He doesnât make it rocket science.â
Hereâs hoping that some of his lessons rub off on the pitching staff.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of the site Plaschke Thy Sweater Is Argyle. Follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke.