Dan Schlossberg's Spring Training Report: Old Favorites Keep Popping Up • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Spring Training Report: Old Favorites Keep Popping Up

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – One of the best things about spring training is the chance to see stars of the past suit up again.

Just last week, 78-year-old Sandy Koufax made headlines when he was struck on the side of the head by a foul ball at the Dodgers’ camp in Glendale, AZ. Although players screamed “Heads up” when Andre Ethier sent the screaming liner down the left-field line, Koufax didn’t realize they were yelling at him. The handsome Hall of Famer survived with a smile and remained in camp as a special pitching instructor (not that Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke & Co. need any help!).

The great Sandy Koufax avoided serious injury when hit by a foul ball last week

The great Sandy Koufax avoided serious injury when hit by a foul ball last week

Cactus League fans can also see Barry Bonds, lured out of retirement to serve as a special instructor for his old club, the San Francisco Giants. Bonds, who holds debatable home run records for both a single season (73) and career (762), will spend a couple of weeks helping the team’s hitters.

The suspended Alex Rodriguez, like Bonds would-be Hall of Famer whose connection to steroids derailed his Cooperstown chances, won’t be at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. But the Yankees have a virtual All-Star team of instructors who will help erase the sting of A-Roid — at least temporarily.

Among the former stars wearing pinstripes this spring are Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Reggie Jackson plus long-time lefty standout Ron Guidry, old Louisiana Lightning himself.

Reggie Jackson wears pinstripes again in spring training

Reggie Jackson wears pinstripes again in spring training

Ex-Yankee Roger Clemens, winner of seven Cy Young Awards under questionable circumstances (see Barry Bonds), is working with pitchers of the Houston Astros, who finished dead last in their first American League season last year.

The Atlanta Braves, who train at Disney World, trot out two former Braves per week. Phil Niekro, whose knuckleball might still derail big-league hitters, is always on the list, while two-time MVP Dale Murphy is there not only to help the hitters and outfielders but to serve as a part-time broadcaster. Tom Glavine, going into the Hall of Fame this July, and former manager Bobby Cox are regulars in the Atlanta camp (Cox sits in the stands, beneath press box row, during exhibition games at Champion Stadium).

Tom Glavine is a spring coach who will spring into Cooperstown this July

Tom Glavine is a spring coach who will spring into Cooperstown this July

Since all 30 teams train in intimate ballparks, autograph-seeking fans have much easier access to the active and former athletes. The old-timers are often more amenable to signing since they appreciate being remembered.

Other notes from the camps:

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will be flying to Australia to play two games that count in the middle of March. Then they’ll return to resume spring training. No major-league games have ever been played Down Under, though a number of Australian players have reached the big leagues. Baseball has opened its season previously in places like Puerto Rico and Japan . . .

Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera will play host when the Yankees and Phillies play a pair of exhibition games in his home country of Panama. No games — not even exhibitions — have been played in Panama since the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers (featuring a rookie named

Mariano Rivera will host his old team in Panama Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Mariano Rivera will host his old team in Panama
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Jackie Robinson) met for a couple in the spring of 1947 . . .

With managers required to cut rosters to 25 by Opening Day, look for a flurry of trades, waiver claims, and surprise player moves over the next month. The season officially begins March 31 for the teams not going to Australia . . .

Hard to believe shortstop Stephen Drew and pitcher Ervan Santana still haven’t signed. MLB may have to revise its rules regarding draft-pick compensation for veteran free agents.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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