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Koufax a surprise guest at event

LOS ANGELES — The storyline was simple: two guys from Brooklyn talking baseball.

Joe Torre invited Sandy Koufax to visit with him and talk about their lives playing a game as a way to raise money for his Safe At Home Foundation to combat domestic abuse.

But the Dodgers manager didn't think the reclusive Koufax would come.

"Sandy's not comfortable with this stuff," Torre told his wife, Ali.

Only Koufax did show up.

"It gave me goosebumps," Torre said of the sold-out crowd of 7,100 at Nokia Theater, which included a number of celebrities and raised more than $750,000.

"Where'd you go?" sportswriter T.J. Simers asked the Hall of Famer Koufax, 74, who retired from the game at the age of 30 and was making a rare public appearance.

"I went home," Koufax said, later explaining it was something his grandfather taught him that has kept him out of the limelight.

"Your most precious asset is time," Koufax said. "Spend your money foolishly, spend your time wisely."

And the reason he came back?

"Joe Torre," Koufax said.

"It's about friendship, a very special friendship," said Torre, 69, of Koufax, even though the two were never teammates.

Both talked of the moments that made them. For Koufax, who was 36-41 as an occasional starter until 1961, it was Gil Hodges telling him he'd have to go eight innings after two pitchers missed the plane for a B-team spring training game.

Koufax decided to ease up on what had been an uncontrollable fastball to be sure he made it through the eight innings, which he did, without allowing a hit.

"A lightbulb went on," said Koufax, who went on to pitch four no-hitters for the Dodgers through 1966.

NO POLITICS FOR SMOLTZ: Count John Smoltz among those surprised by a report that the Republican Party might approach him to run for Congress. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported Saturday that Republicans are thinking about asking Smoltz, 42, to run for the congressional seat that will be vacated when U.S. Rep. John Linder retires at the end of his current term. "This is not in my plans," the free-agent right-hander replied via text message.

REYES MEETS WITH FBI: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes said he met with federal investigators last week regarding a Canadian doctor accused of selling an unapproved drug. Dr. Anthony Galea is facing four charges in his country. His assistant has been charged in the U.S. for having HGH and another drug while crossing the border in September. Reyes said he wasn't a target in the investigation.

A'S: Right-handers Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko agreed to minor-league deals Saturday, and less than 24 hours later Jennings was getting ready to play catch at camp. Tomko will continue to rehab an irritated nerve in his right arm.

D'BACKS: Right-hander Brandon Webb threw 43 pitches in his fourth bullpen session, mixing in changeups and improving his mechanics. "I think the velocity was better this time than it was last," said the former Cy Young Award winner, who had shoulder surgery in August.

ORIOLES: Second baseman Brian Roberts took live batting practice for the first time since being diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his lower back.

RANGERS: Manager Ron Washington said the centerfield and leadoff jobs are Julio Borbon's to lose. Borbon, 24, batted .312 with a .376 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging percentage and had 19 steals in 23 attempts in 46 games last season.

WHITE SOX: Right-hander Jake Peavy confirmed he has had conversations with general manager Kenny Williams about acquiring Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, reported. Peavy, who was teammates with Gonzalez in San Diego, said he urged Williams to pursue him.

Koufax a surprise guest at event 02/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2010 9:49pm]
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