Making Moves: Koufax Returns, Gallagher/Contreras Released, A.J./Belisario Avoid Arbitration

RonaldBelisarioRunning

The Dodgers came to terms on contracts with both A.J. Ellis (1-year, $2 million) and Ronald Belisario (1-year, $1.45 million) on Friday. Both players avoided arbitration by signing, as Chad covered.

—–

Austin Gallagher was released by the Dodgers. On Friday, he received a 50-game suspension from baseball for testing positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned substance. The team also released Edwin Contreras.

—–

Sandy Koufax will return to the Dodgers organization as a special advisor to Mark Walter, and while the PR part of this is great and all, stuff like the following passage is far more interesting:

“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,” said general manager Ned Colletti.

Former Dodgers pitcher Josh Lindblom illustrated Koufax’s teaching talents last spring while relating a bullpen session he had in 2010. With the usual pitching coaches offering tips from behind the mound, one noticed Lindblom struggling with his breaking ball release and offered some tips. Lindblom, focused on the plate and not turning around to face the coaches, tried to implement each suggestion.

“One of them says, ‘Imagine a bucket on home plate and throw the curveball into the bucket,'” Lindblom recalled. “It made sense at the time. So I spun the ball into the bucket. It worked. I turned around to see who it was, and I was like, ‘Holy smoke, it’s Sandy Koufax.’

“My focus intensified when I realized it was a guy who had one of the best curveballs in history. I locked in and focused. And when I struggle, I still think about that and another thing he said — ‘See how many times the ball spins before it gets to the plate. That makes you really focus on snapping it off.’

“You hear stories about hitters saying they could hear the laces spinning on Koufax’s fastball. He sees two pitches and makes a suggestion and you make an adjustment that quickly. He’s great at simplifying things. He doesn’t make it rocket science.”

Here’s hoping that some of his lessons rub off on the pitching staff.

=====

Greg Zakwin is the founder of the site Plaschke Thy Sweater Is Argyle. Follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke.

About Greg Zakwin

Kate Upton, Chewy Jolly Ranchers, Biscoff Cookies and Spread, Nick Offerman. @ArgyledPlaschke