Thursday, 13 March 2008

Spring Training Preview

Several WIL Teams Begin Spring Drills
By The Associated Press
Spring training is just around the corner — some clubs will even swing bats and loosen up winter-tightened muscles the first time this week — as the far-flung Western International League prepares for the 1953 baseball season.
This year the Class A loop has expanded into a 10-club circuit, reaching clear into the Canadian prairie country for two members, Edmonton and Calgary.
However, the rugged 165-game schedule of 1952, at the end of which the Victoria Tyees walked off with the title, will be shortened. Only 144 games are scheduled, with the season split into two halves at the July 4 weekend.
Here's how spring training camps size up:
Garriott at Reins
Victoria — Starts at Sonoma, Calif., April 1. Manager Cec Garriott is at the reins again. Several of last year's top players are trying to win berths with Portland of the Coast League, but may land back with the Tyees. Good-looking newcomers include Ronnie Odekirk, a shortstop, and Napoleon Gullie, who Manager Garriott says should hit 30 homers.
Spokane — The 1952 second place club starts working out at their home Ferris Field next Tuesday, weather permitting. Wilbert Hafey, who hit 24 circuit blows with Wenatchee in 1951 to lead the league and who played off and on with the San Francisco Seals last season, was signed last week. Don Osborn’s boys will open the home season with double-headers against Calgary May 2 and 3, after starting the season on the road against Victoria April 23.
Edmonton — The newcomer Eskimoes will start spring training Monday at Compton, Calif. A tie-up has been arranged with the New York Yankees. Bob Sturgeon, former major league and Pacific Coast League shortstop, will be playing manager, holding down second base.
Hustling Club
Calgary — Playing Manager Gene Lillard, who says he expects to handle the catching, says he is going to demand a hustling club. The Stampeders will start spring training next Saturday at Porterville, Calif. Pitchers will include Dick Bishop and Bob Roberts from Spokane and four others from the St. Louis Browns chain.
Vancouver — Last year’s third place Capilanos have been completely overhauled and will start training this week at Healdsburg, Calif. The new general manager, Dewey Soriano, replaces Bob Brown, who has taken over as league president. Third Baseman Harry [sic] Storey became manager, succeeding Edo Vanni. Probably only a few veterans will be back and the club will look to the Seattle Rainiers for help.
Salem — Spring training starts two weeks hence at Calistoga, Calif. Manager Hugh Luby is now at Monterey, Calif., trying to land some Sacramento Solons rookies. He hopes to get about 10 Coast League players and also is looking for help from San Francisco.
‘Good Material’
Yakima — Manager Dario Lodigiani, starting his 20th season in baseball and the second at the Bears' helm, will call his men out at at Yakima April 1. “We're going to have good material lots of experience,” he said. His main job will be to pare down more than 40 players to 17.
Tri-City — Edo Vanni has moved here from Vancouver to become the Braves’ playing manager.
Braves will look like the Vancouver annex with ex-Caps Bob Snyder, Ray Tran, Jimmy Moore and Bill Whyte on the squad. One good looking player signed has been Terry Carroll, a speedy infielder at .315 hitter from the Southwest International League. Carroll, a Washington College graduate, may be the Braves’ regular first baseman.
Lewiston — The Broncs will train at their “banana belt” homefield, starting Wednesday. General Manager Bill Brenner has spent two weeks in California looking for players and Larry Barton, Compton, Calif., has been hired as player-coach. He also has WIL vets Ken Richardson and Mel Wasley.
Wenatchee — Chiefs, who open training camp March 25 at Lindsay, Calif., expect a top-notch assist from the Oakland Acorns. So far, the Pacific Coast League club has turned over pitchers Charlie Beamon, Ben Smith, Carlos Santos and Dave Klein, as well as outfielder-catcher Art Cuitti.
General manager Frank Dasso says he's more enthuiastic than ever over Wenatchee's prospects. A three-way deal involving trades or sales of players on the Oakland roster to the big league clubs is expected to send young talent to the Chiefs for class “A” ball experience.

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