Koufax taking more casual role at Dodgers camp
GLENDALE, Ariz -- Donning a comfortable outfit made up of a blue Dodgers pullover, ballcap and wrinkled cargo shorts, legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax outlined the more informal role he will take with the club this spring and touched on a number of other topics after watching the team work out Monday at Camelback Ranch.
In his second season as special adviser to chairman Mark Walter, Koufax said he isn't sure how long he'll be in camp this year, but he knows he won't be in uniform with the rest of the Dodgers.
"That's not my job," he said. "A lot of times, I'll just talk to [pitching coach] Rick Honeycutt about what's happening. If Rick wants me to talk to somebody, I will. If somebody asks me to, I will. But basically, I'm just watching."
Added Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, "It sounds like he'll be in and out. He's doing what he wants, as he should be. Sandy doesn't want to be a distraction in any way. We're just really happy to have him around."
A celebrity who drew hundreds of autograph-hungry fans to his side Monday, Koufax also talked about the Dodgers' newest star in Yasiel Puig and the Cuban's much-discussed theatrics.
"If the showmanship doesn't involve bad decisions, it's fine," Koufax said. "I think people love it."
One thing Koufax would like to see Puig improve upon is his decision-making in the outfield and how to harness the rocket attached to his shoulder.
"You've got a great arm, you want to show it off, but you'd like to see it go to the right place all the time," Koufax said. "He's young, he hasn't played. I think the biggest thing is he hasn't played against competition as good as he is, so you're always able to have your physical ability make up for whatever else you did. He's learning. I'm sure it's going to happen. There's too much talent not to."
A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Koufax flew to New York last month to present Clayton Kershaw with his second Cy Young. The two Dodgers aces met again on Monday, and Koufax gave a glowing report on the 25-year-old.
"He's just a very special person -- a special pitcher, a special person," Koufax said. "If he keeps getting better, the sky's the limit, and if he doesn't get any better, the sky's still the limit."
Koufax also was asked if he thought the Dodgers and D-backs' recently heated rivalry might spill over into the season-opening series in Australia.
"Absolutely not," he said. "After that long on an airplane, you won't have a temper."