2/16/2014 4:58 P.M. ET
Koufax back in Dodgers camp as advisor
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitchers returned to camp on Sunday and the greatest Dodger of them all was right behind them.
Sandy Koufax arrived to begin his second season as special advisor to chairman Mark Walter. Koufax will spend a portion of Spring Training working with the club's pitchers at Camelback Ranch-Glendale and consult during the season.
Along with former teammate and current Dodgers bunting instructor Maury Wills, Koufax brings to Spring Training the quality of a champion. He was a member of the Dodgers World Championship teams in 1955, '59, '63 and '65, earning MVP honors in 1963 and '65. His postseason record was 4-3 with a 0.95 ERA. He was selected to seven consecutive All-Star games from 1961-66.
In 1979, Koufax began an 11-year stint with the Dodgers as a Minor League pitching instructor. He was estranged from the organization while it was owned by News Corp., which also owned publications that delved into Koufax's private life. He resurfaced when the club was bought by Frank McCourt and was an occasional Spring Training visitor, as he has been with the New York Mets, who are owned by Koufax's childhood friend, Fred Wilpon.
Koufax, now 78, had a playing career that blossomed late because of wildness and ended early because of injury. But in between, he displayed an unmatched overpowering brilliance that made him the youngest player ever voted into the Hall of Fame.
Koufax was a three-time unanimous Cy Young winner with four no-hitters, an MVP award, three 25-win seasons and five consecutive ERA titles to his credit. In each of his Cy Young seasons, he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He threw 54 complete games in his last two seasons, led the league in strikeouts four times and innings pitched his last two years.
Koufax has the rare ability of translating mechanical themes and mental approach into simple language easily understood by pitchers young and old.
"For our young players and our veterans to be able to tap Sandy's expertise and counsel during Spring Training and throughout the season will provide yet another tremendous resource in our efforts to strengthen our club," general manager Ned Colletti said last year.
Dodgers' two Garcias battling injuries
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers have two pitchers in camp named Garcia and both are hurt.
Right-handed prospect Yimi Garcia has been sidelined with a sore right knee and the club is awaiting test results. The 23-year-old was protected from the Rule 5 Draft after being a Southern League All-Star with a system-leading 19 saves. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League.
Meanwhile, left-hander Onelki Garcia is throwing on flat ground as he continues to recover from two surgeries -- a left elbow procedure to remove a spur in November and arthroscopic surgery to repair torn left knee cartilage last month.
The 24-year-old Cuban, who pitched only one professional game in 2012, raced through the system last year with 25 games at Double-A Chattanooga, 10 games at Triple-A Albuquerque and three games with the Dodgers.
Dodgers ready for camp battle -- in ping-pong
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The ping-pong table that is the focal point of the Dodgers' clubhouse becomes the official venue of the club's annual double-elimination Spring tournament on Monday.
Clayton Kershaw is the tournament organizer and self-proclaimed commissioner, mostly because he's the best player in the room.
He also takes pride in the way the game has helped bond teammates and provide a competitive diversion from the monotony of early camp.
"It's a fun idea," Kershaw said. "It's a good way to get to know guys, especially the new guys in camp. The younger guys really like it and it's a good way for them to get to know everybody."
Sixteen players were randomly paired for the doubles tourney. Playing rules and the draw were displayed on hand-drawn posters provided by assistant commissioner, Ellen Kershaw.
"If Ellen doesn't make the posters," said her husband, "this thing is not nearly as official."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.