SAYS CAPS’ SORIANO
We’ll Need Kovenz, Hairston
By Clancy Loranger
[Vancouver Province, April 14]
HEALDSBURG, Calif.—Pitching, excellent; hitting, promising; infield, very good; outfield and catching, a large question mark.
That’s the picture with Vancouver Capilanos here, 10 days before they open the 1953 Western International League baseball season.
“If I can get John and keep Sam, we’ll have a really good ball club,” says general manager Dewey Soriano.
John is John Kovenz, a .305 hitter with Tri-City last year, whom Soriano is ready and willing to buy from the Cleveland organization. He has a wire out to Kovenz in Oregon, and if and when he agrees to terms, he’s on the club.
Sam is Sam Hairston, the husky Negro catcher, whom the Chicago White Sox are trying to get away from us. The Sox went so far as to line up another catcher, Jim Watson, for Vancouver, but Soriano turned him down on the grounds that Watson’s personal troubles—his wife is very ill---might not allow him to go his best lick for the Caps.
Meanwhile, he’s keeping Hairston here, and waiting for further word from Lee Miller, Seattle’s general manager.
Only other catcher in camp is a huge rookie, Jack Johnson, who needs at least a year in a lower classification.
Without Kovenz, the outfield lines up like this: Dick Briskey in left field, Nick Castas in centre, Frank Mascaro in right.
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Mascaro is solid, he’s looked like the best hitter in the spring games, and has a strong arm. Briskey will probably stay in the outfield, although he’s always been an infield. That’s unless the Caps get some outfield help from Seattle, which is doubtful.
Castas is a good looking kid but it’s questionable that he’d hit class A pitching.
From there in, Soriano and manager Harvey Storey have no worries. In Storey at third, big Wert at first, and Chuck Davis at shortstop they have there of the finest defensive players in the league and Storey and Wert have looked good at the plate.
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Second baseman Gordon Hernandez, after a slow start that had the braintrust wondering, has come along nicely in the last few days and will probably make the grade, he hit .313 in the Pioneer League last season and his fielding is adequate.
The pitching could be the best in the league. Storey’s four top starters will be Pete Hernandez, Van Fletcher, Brad Guldborg and Jim Hedgecock. Fletcher was 12-10 last year, and lost a lot of close ones; Guldborg won 15 in 1952 and Hedgecock, who looks in better share that he ever has, won 14 games with the sixth-place Victoria team in 1951. He didn’t play last year.
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To back up this quartet, Storey has the Vancouver boys, Rod MacKay and Rod Owens, both of whom have been impressed, Dale Thomasson, Lonnie Myers and Bob Stuart. All of them, on occasion, have shown the management something.
Around and ready, too, is veteran Carl Gunnarson, who won 12 games with Victoria last year, and seems to go on forever. He can’t be discounted. There is always the chancem, too, that we’ll get Tom Lovrich from Seattle.