Sandy Koufax gives the kids a lesson of a lifetime
There was a ghost sighting at the Dodgers' camp Monday. The kind the Dodgers would like to see a lot more.
Sandy Koufax, fresh off his benefit night in Los Angeles on Saturday, is in Phoenix for a week and stopped by the team’s complex to speak to the pitching staff and work individually with several pitchers.
He worked with Chad Billingsley, Josh Lindblom, Scott Elbert and Ramon Troncoso in the bullpen area, after having spoken with Eric Stults, Jon Link and Lindblom earlier. Billingsley seemed to get special attention.
"He has that aura or awe about him," Stults said. "He's somebody that is special in the game of baseball.
"But he has a way of communicating that you understand. He's one of those guys that’s like, 'Here’s a suggestion. If you don't like it, go back to the way you throw.' As a pitcher, you want to hear those things."
After an early-morning meeting with the staff, he spent about an hour on the field, observing pitchers, stopping to make suggestions, and then finally taking in Maury Wills' bunting drills.
"He's very free with his information as far as what he thinks can help pitchers," said manager Joe Torre. "He doesn’t beat anyone of the head with it. We just had a little session in there. There were some questions that we asked mainly, and the players were listening.
"As I’ve told players in the past, 'You guys are crazy if you don’t take advantage of this. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come your way very often.'"
Lindblom said his curve was tighter after one session with Koufax.
"He said instead of thinking about making it nasty, just think about spinning the ball," Lindblom said. "Thinking there's a wall out in front of you and throwing it over the wall."
Torre said he expected Koufax, who lives in Vero Beach, Fla., back again this week.
-- Steve Dilbeck, in Phoenix
Photo: Sandy Koufax, center, talks to the Dodgers' pitching staff during spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. on Monday. Credit: Nick Oza / Associated Press