Thursday, 13 March 2008

Spring Training, Thursday, April 2, 1953

By Jim Tang
[Victoria Colonist, April 3, 1953]
FETTER SPRINGS HOTEL, Fetter Springs, Calif.—It’s early, perhaps, to start guessing at the line-up Victoria Tyees are likely to present to their fans when they open the WIL season against Spokane on April 23 but everyone liked to be a seer although they realize forecasting has its hazards. And there is so much that can make one wrong.
Unexpected player deals can throw a forecaster for quite a loop. He also has to contend with the ever-changing opinion of club officials on young players and the reluctance of managers to give any definite opinions at other times. And the players can seal their own doom by off-field actions. Despite all this, however, a reasonable guess on Victoria player personel can be made at this time.
At the moment, the infield appears the closest to being set. Unless the unexpected happen, it will start with Don Pries at third base, rookie Ron Odekirk at shortstop, Lu Branham at second base and Joe Ciardy at first base. Ciardy, the good-fielding Las Vegas purchase, appears to have the edge over holdover Chuck Abernathy. If the club decides to keep an extra infielder until they definitely know whether or not Jim Clark will be available, it will likely be Nick Cannuli, San Francisco semi-pro brought to camp by Pries.
The latest report on Clark is that he is exercising the fingers he injured at work during the winter and that he may be able to report in about a month. If he is able to play, it could mean that either he or Odekirk will move in to second base, depending, of course, on how Odekirk has performed up to that time.
Fight for Outfield Spot
Only one outfield job appears to be open. Manager Cec Garriott expects to be able to play the full season in centre field and Nap Gulley should be the regular right fielder. Favored for the left-field post is Gail Taylor, Ciardy’s Las Vegas teammate last season, who has impressed Garriott at the plate although he has had some defensive difficulties. Taylor’s past record, however, indicates that he is a good defensive player. Walt Tyler, co-batting champion of the Southwest International League, has also to be considered. So does Herman Charles, the Panamanian colored rookie who will join the club as soon as U.S. immigration officers are satisfied that he meets the requirements of the McCarron Act. And then there is righthander Bill Bottler who swings a mean bat and who may be converted into an outfielder. The Tyees may not measure up to last season in the outfield, but they won’t be far off.
The situation behind the plate is not yet clear, but holdover Milt Martin is almost certain to be one of the two receivers. Sam Brusa has impressed with his ability to handle pitchers, but has yet to win Garriott’s approval, an important item. Manny Tornay, younger brother of Nini, former Yakima catcher, now holding down the first-string job with San Francisco, looks like a promising hitter and may be kept in preference to the more experienced Brusa.
Pitching, the big item on last season’s championship club, is the most indefinite of all. It all depends on what the Portland Beavers have. If Bill Prior accepts a full-time job this season, he will be a regular starter. Garriott feels that Bill Wisneski can become a reliable and winning pitcher and intends to retain the righthander, who had so much trouble with his control last season. Wisneski looked good against Seattle and may make it. Ben Lorino will be another starter unless he should be given a chance with another Coast League club, which is altogether probable. Don Hupp is here but is scheduled for army induction.
The above is all that the Tyees have at the moment, but they are expecting Bill Bottler, Dick Waibel and Frank Chase from Portland and have high hopes that Jehosie Heard will eventually be returned. The little colored southpaw has expressed a desire to return and the Tyees’ chances are enhanced by the fact the Beavers are deep in pitching. However, a good showing by Heard in early Coast League games or a Portland trade could alter the situation at any time. Until Portland has named the players it will send, pitching is the biggest unknown question mark for the 1953 Tyees. But, all in all, the situation is far from cloudy.

No comments: