There aren't many greater words in the English language than "Sandy Koufax is in camp today." On a day in Arizona where the winds can be described as howling, so wild that the Dodgers canceled their scheduled pop-up drills, it was nothing compared to my stomach, in which there were butterflies moving much faster than the gusts outside.
Koufax was visiting Camelback Ranch today, and we got to speak with him briefly in the clubhouse for a few minutes. When asked about the ownership change, Koufax said, "You're sad to see it going through this kind of change. Change is inevitable, but this is not the normal way it happens."
Then Koufax was asked if Clayton Kershaw had a ceiling, and number 32 said, "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."
Koufax went a bit further when asked of the comparisons between Kershaw and him, saying, "If he’s as good as I think he’s going to be, I’m honored."
Don Mattingly loved having Koufax around, and said it was great to have franchise greats like Koufax around, as well as Davey Lopes, Maury Wills, and Steve Yeager, who are already in camp instructing players, as well as Ron Cey, who is expected at Camelback Ranch later this spring.
"Just being around those guys is [being around] the history of the game and the history of the team," Mattingly said. "It's this chain that keeps going. It's good for the team to see guys that are a part of the organization."
As for his ace being compared to one of the great left-handed pitchers of all time, Mattingly didn't like it so much a few years ago when then-manager Joe Torre first dropped the Kershaw-Koufax comparison, but Mattingly has warmed to the idea.
"It wasn't fair [to Kershaw] when he was just starting out because there's a learning curve," Mattingly said. "Now, Clayton has established himself, and it's a test of time. That kind of greatness comes over time and comes over a career. I want him to be compared [to Koufax] because that means he's continuing to do well."
The Dodgers on Friday signed two players from their Thursday tryout camp, right-handed pitcher Blake Johnson and shortstop Brandon Mims. Both were signed to minor league deals and assigned to minor league camp. Mims is only 19 and was drafted in the ninth round in 2010 by Toronto but had only two plate appearances in 2010 in the Gulf Coast League and hasn't played since, for reasons unknown.
Johnson was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round in 2004, then traded along with Julio Pimentel, Odalis Perez and cash to Kansas City in July 2006 for Elmer Dessens. Johnson, who turns 27 in June, was 6-2 with a 5.59 ERA in 71 innings between Double A and Triple A in 2011, with 31 walks and 52 strikeouts.
Sunday's planned intrasquad game will be an eight-inning game. Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, and a yet unnamed pitcher will each pitch two innings.
Philip Humber will start for the White Sox on Monday in the Cactus League opener against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, per Chris Silva of ESPN Chicago. It's in the early going in the spring, so there are a ton of scheduled pitchers pitching short stints, including old friend Will Ohman, Jesse Crain, Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Pedro Hernandez, Charlie Leesman and Nestor Molina.
The Dodgers agreed to terms with all 24 players on their 40-man roster with between zero and three years of service time, including relief pitcher Ronald Belisario, who is currently on the restricted list.