02/18/08 6:26 PM ET
Notes: Pitching past meets present
Mattingly arrives at camp; Schmidt, Brazoban get more rest
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Tanned and appearing fit from another stay at his Caribbean hideaway, the 72-year-old Vero Beach resident conducted personal bullpen clinics on Monday for longtime student Chan Ho Park, who is trying to revive his career, and reliever Scott Proctor, who grew up in nearby Stuart, Fla., and came through the Dodgers farm system before being reacquired last year from the Yankees.
"I was drafted by this organization and we were always told about following in the footsteps of Koufax, [Don] Drysdale, [Orel] Hershiser," recalled Proctor. "I remember watching him work with big league pitchers when I was over on the Minor League side and I remember wishing I could be on the receiving end of that."
On Monday, he was. Koufax talked to Proctor about balance and keeping his weight back while engaged with the rubber.
"We worked on a lot of mechanical things and thought process and changed a couple of grips," said Proctor. "Of course, not everybody has hands the size of palm fronds like he does. But just to pick his brain is an honor."
Koufax will be put to the test on Tuesday when he tutors Greg Miller, a hard-throwing lefty signed to a substantial bonus who is struggling mightily with his control. Once upon a time, Koufax was all of those things.
"Yes he was," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, smiling at the parallels. "Maybe they'll connect. Maybe Sandy can help simplify things for Greg the way he explains pitching. I'm all for it."
Manager Joe Torre said the first time he faced Koufax in 1961, he struck out three times and popped out. By then, Koufax was a six-year veteran and Torre was 20 years old.
"He wasn't complicated, a fastball and a curve and you had to decide to hit one or the other, but you couldn't hit both," Torre said. "In my eye, if the fastball started at the low shin, you could swing at it, it had that much lift to it. The curveball had to start over your head, it had that much spin and bite. He was intimidating."
Torre said when he was considering his coaching staff, Koufax endorsed keeping Honeycutt as pitching coach.
Mattingly arrives: Don Mattingly, who stepped aside as Major League batting coach to care for his son during a divorce, arrived for a three-week stint as a special assignment coach, a role the club carved out to keep him involved.
Mattingly said he hopes to resume a full-time position possibly next season, but said the decision to stay home with his 16-year-old son Jordon was easy, if not pleasant. Mattingly also has a 22-year-old son, Taylor, who played in the Yankees system and 20-year-old Preston, a Dodgers farmhand.
"It's the first time I ever made a commitment and not lived up to it and that bothered me," he said. "But when you talk about your family, sometimes that's just the way it is. The Dodgers have been great and I'm grateful to be part of the club and be allowed to come to Spring Training."
Mattingly said he will defer to his replacement, Mike Easler, because "there needs to be one voice and it needs to be Mike's." But he will be available for instruction and anything Torre requests.
He said his personal situation has been made more difficult by the media attention it has received.
"You never want that. That stinks," he said of the coverage, which included reports of the arrest of his estranged wife. "You don't want your laundry in the papers. But I've lived in the public eye and it's just part of it. You can't fight it. It is what it is and it goes away the next day. I worry more for the kids' standpoint. Personally, I don't care what people think."
Under the circumstances, he said it was fortunate that he was passed over for Joe Girardi as Torre's replacement as Yankees manager. "Unanswered prayers," he called it.
Mattingly will scout and spend time with the Major League club during the season when his schedule allows.
Rehab bullpens: Jason Schmidt and Yhency Brazoban, given an extra day of rest as they return from shoulder operations, are scheduled for their second bullpen sessions on Tuesday. They will probably take another extra day before their next bullpen session, then join the same schedule as the rest of the pitchers.
Reporting for duty: Among the clubhouse arrivals on Monday were Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra, James Loney, Juan Pierre and Mark Sweeney. The only players yet to be seen in the clubhouse are Jeff Kent, Ramon Martinez, Rafael Furcal, Terry Tiffee and Alfredo Simon. Position players must report by Tuesday and the first full-squad workout is Wednesday.
Lasorda honored: The croquet field at Disney's Vero Beach Resort was renamed Lasorda Fielda in a Monday ceremony attended by the Hall of Fame manager, who will take over the Florida squad when Torre goes to China with the rest of the team next month.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.