October 22, 2014

Kershaw Solid in Debut

Rookie Sensation Clayton Kershaw

Whether Clayton Kershaw is the second coming of Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela or whomever, one thing’s for certain: the kid looked legitimate in his debut today. Here’s his line:

Pitcher

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PC-ST

ERA

Kershaw

6.0

5

2

2

1

7

0

102-69

3.00

Vin accurately noted during the telecast that Kershaw really settled down after the first inning and got into a nice rhythm from the 2nd through the 5th with seven strikeouts. Here’s his pitch count by inning:

1st inning: 32 pitches (striking out the side)

2nd inning: 12 pitches

3rd inning: 10 pitches

4th inning: 11 pitches

5th inning: 10 pitches

6th inning: 27 pitches

While we didn’t see “The Pitch” (which Vin described simply as “filthy”), we did see a very mature 20 year-old that has a number of pitches at his disposal and one who doesn’t panic when under pressure. I’m not sure how long he’s going to be up with the Club for more than a cup of coffee, but Dodger fans should be very encouraged by his performance today.

Kershaw, who spent time during spring training with the Dodgers and pitched in the final exhibition game against Boston, was 0-3 with a 2.28 ERA for Jacksonville in minor league play this season and had 47 strikeouts in 43 1-3 innings. During spring training, he gave up one run over 14 innings and struck out 19 while with the Dodgers.

Despite the “no decision” game for Kershaw today, he definitely has a lot to be proud of. Torre and Honneycutt let him throw 102 pitches in his debut, including a 32-pitch first inning, without getting rattled – despite the first run that quickly hit the scoreboard.

“It looked in the first inning like he was going to run into some problems with (pitch) count,” said Hal McRae. “But after that he started mixing in his change-up and getting some quick outs. I was impressed.” Clearly no classic McRae phone throwing was to be had today ;)

Dodgers closer Takashi Saito (3-1) picked up the win with five Ks in two innings, including striking out the side in order in the 10th.

Oh, by the way, if you’re curious when his next start would be, that’s this Friday in New York City against the Mets. No pressure there, right?

Check out some of Kershaw’s post-game comments over at Blue Notes (and are we sure Kershaw’s not 30? He sounds way too mature to be 20).

Sandy Koufax and Chan Ho Park: An Unlikely Pair

Not only was Sandy Koufax a legend on the field, but he’s quietly been an ongoing inspiration to the team’s younger pitchers for more years than I can remember, and this year is no exception (well, Sandy did take a few years off during the FOX ownership era, but all is now well with his relationship with the Club). Today, Josh Rawitch’s blog, Inside the Dodgers, notes his work with Scott Proctor and Chan Ho Park.

A really interesting note about Sandy’s continued influence with the Club and Park in particular comes from Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, which makes Josh’s blog entry all the more interesting (note that this was written the day before Josh’s comments). Here’s an excerpt from Gurnick’s post:

“One player disappointed to hear he missed Koufax was Chan Ho Park. Koufax was a surrogate mentor to Park through his friendship with then-pitching coach Dave Wallace when Park blazed the modern trail for Asian players to the Major Leagues.”

That’s a fascinating insight into both Sandy and Chan Ho. Park’s got a long way to go to make the team this year, but I wish him all the luck in the world. I remember seeing him years ago when, after getting sent down by the Dodgers, he was pitching for the Albuquerque Dukes and the team was in the Northwest to play the Tacoma Rainiers (the Mariners’ AAA Club). I remember that the guy had blazing speed, but with a real control problem. Still, I remember being very impressed and was shocked to see Park’s name when I looked him up in the program. He’s obviously a fighter, so I’m glad to see him back for another drink of water at Spring Training.

But I digress; back to Sandy. I am curious to see what happens next year at this time. According to Gurnick, the noted recluse splits time between Vero Beach and somewhere in the Caribbean. Will he still spend quality time with the Club in Glendale? I certainly hope so. The guy’s a living legend and I’m glad to see the younger (and older) pitchers giving him the respect he obviously deserves.

Lastly, for those of you interested in learning more about Koufax, I highly recommend Sandy Koufax, A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Lear. The book was written back in 2002, but it’s a great story of the writer searching Sandy out and the friendship and trust that developed between the two, while also giving you a unique insight into one of the most interesting players of all time (both from a baseball perspective, but also from a human perspective). It’s a beautiful read, and a great way to get psyched about not only the current season, but about the Dodgers’ 50th Anniversary celebrations to come.

Tiger Woods gets personalized Sandy Koufax Autograph

Tiger Woods is an L.A. Dodgers Fan

Tiger Woods’ autograph is hard to come by.  He gives it very sparingly and uses Upper Deck to help limit forgeries that typically flood the market for autographs.

Tiger himself has only asked for two autographs in his entire life.  The first was from boxing great Muhammad Ali.  Who was the other?

Dodger great Sandy Koufax.

Why Koufax?  It turns out that Tiger Woods is a lifelong Dodger fan and has always felt that Sandy Koufax, along with Jackie Robinson, epitomized what the Dodgers were all about

Said Woods, “I’ve been a Dodger fan my entire life, and Koufax is the man.  For pitchers, you wouldn’t think of any other player.  During [five years in the 1960s] nobody could catch him.”

Tiger actually secured the autograph by reaching out to his sources at Upper Deck.  He mentioned to them that if any of them had contact with Koufax, could they possibly ask for an autograph.  The next time that Tiger bumped into his Upper Deck source, the rep handed him a baseball with a personalized inscription.

Woods has placed the ball amongst his other trophies and memorabilia.  “It’s at home in my bedroom, sitting right there.”

Tiger Woods – Golf Superstar and L.A. Dodgers Fan!