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Hrabosky Tag: 'A Battler'


St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"First Spring Training Mention"

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 6, 1970-On the eve of the exhibition baseball season, can you guess the 25 players with whom the Redbirds will make their run-or flight-this year?

The Cardinals, rained out yesterday, rescheduled a squad game tuneup for this afternoon at Al Lang Field before beginning an exhibition slate of 28 contests tomorrow against the darlings of baseball, the last to first New York Mets.

Although much could happen because of holdouts, injuries, trades, disappointments and surprises, an observer gets the impression that manager Red Schoendienst might wind up with as many as eight infielders and as few as two catchers.

A versatility of roster players could enable the Cardinals to keep 19-year-old shortstop Milt

Ramirez for future duty if handyman Carl Taylor can catch well enough to be No. 2 behind Joe Torre. Schoendienst already feels that another utility player, Cookie Rojas, or third-base incumbent Mike Shannon could go behind the plate in a pinch as No. 3

Fringe players at the outset of exhibition season are pitchers Rich Nye, Santiago Guzman and Al Hrabosky, infielders Phil Gagliano and Jerry DaVanon and outfielders Leron Lee and Leroy Thomas.

St. Louisan Thomas is not on the Redbirds’ roster, but is getting a look-see as pinch-hitter, along with Jim Campbell, a first baseman who bats lefthanded. Campbell, 27, was bought from Baltimore on a conditional basis after he hit well in the International League’s experiment with a designated pinch-hitter. Batting regularly in the pitcher’s No. 9 hole at Rochester, Campbell hit .274 with 19 homers and 76 RBIs.

Both Lee, who hit .303 at Tulsa, and Hrabosky, a 20-year-old lefthander who was 8-2 at Modesto in his first professional season, are regarded as standing prospects, but the age-old question enters into the Redbirds’ reckoning:

Is it better to keep an inexperienced performer on a big league bench where he’ll fail to progress or send him out to pitch or play regularly so that he’ll develop more quickly?

Schoendienst, summing up the outlook before sending Bob Gibson out to open the Grapefruit League season, said:

"Shortstop is the big thing. Shortstop and the bullpen, especially the lefthanded situation, and Taylor as a catcher. If Carl can catch, Tom Hilgendorf can pitch and Steve Huntz can do well enough both at bat and in the field, I’ll honestly feel better about this ball club than I did about the team a year ago. Even though we’d won two straight pennants, I had a peculiar feeling that all was not well.

"I feel pretty good about our outlook now and I’ll feel better if we settle the shortstop situation, the bullpen lefthander and our backup catching."

At the moment, eight and maybe nine pitching jobs seem set. The only question appears to be whether Chuck Taylor or George Culver or Jerry Johnson will join Gibson, holdout Steve Carlton, Nelson Briles and Mike Torrez as starters. The others are likely to work in the bullpen with Sal Campisi and probably lefthanders Hilgendorf and Nye.

The hard-throwing Guzman and strong-armed Hrabosky are outside possibilities.

With Torre and Carl Taylor listed as catchers, it must be pointed out that Taylor probably will play outfield primarily, perhaps platooning with Joe Hague in left field. Lou Brock will be in right, Jose Cardenal in center field and Vic Davilillo will be the backup man.

Do the Cardinals keep Lee? Or Thomas? Or neither?

The guess is that Dal Maxvill might prevail over Huntz at shortstop in an infield likely to include reluctant Richie Allen, Julian Javier and Mike Shannon. Quite properly, Huntz will be given the first and longest look at shortstop, but DaVanon also will get a shot there.

Rojas will be listed as an infield reserve, but Gagliano could be in jeopardy. The time to tell will begin tomorrow.

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