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Phil Cavarretta

We're Not Cellar-Dwellers

by Phil Cavarretta
Manager, Chicago Cubs

MARCH 1952 - MESA, ARIZONA - A manager can't play for his men, but he can make sure they play the best they can, and play to win. That's what I'm going to try to do this year with our Chicago Cubs.

I'm not going to predict what the results will be, but I'm confident that we're not a last-place ball club. I always played to win when I was in the ranks. And I'm going to expect all of my players to do just that, or else.

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While it's easy to be optimistic in the spring, I feel that a first-division finish is within our reach, with the breaks.

I expect Roy Smalley to come back from his bad year. Roy's a great shortstop and he's shown he has ability. That broken ankle he suffered early last season hurt his effectiveness, even when he came back to the lineup late in the year. But he's all right now, and I think Roy is ready for real greatness.

Eddie Miksis, at second base, can become one of the finest ball players in the game this year. At first base, I still feel able to play 80 or 90 games, but hope I don't have to play at all. Dee Fondy hit .376 for Los Angeles last season, and if he can hit anywhere near that figure- even 70 points below it- I have a hunch he's going to be the Chicago Cubs' first baseman.

We've got a battle royal at third base, with Ransom Jackson, Bill Serena and Leon Brinkopf battling it out. Jackson had a great rookie year in '51, while Serena had to sit it out with a broken wrist. As for Brinkopf, he's one of the finest rookies to come out of the minors this spring, and he may help our ball club-if not at third base, somewhere else in the infield, or possibly the outfield. Leon drove in 93 runs and hit 25 homers for Los Angeles last year, and we can always use that kind of power.

Our catching is much stronger than it has been in a long while, with John Pramesa, Toby Atwell, the sensational 19 year-old Harry Chiti and Bruce Edwards. If Bruce recovers from his arm injury this season, he alone can prove a big factor in moving us up a few notches this summer.

I like our pitching, too. Young fellows like Bob Rush, Bob Kelly, Turk Lown, Johnny Klippstein and Warren Hacker give us a great potential. And don't forget we have veterans Dutch Leonard, Willie Ramsdell, Joe Hatten and Walt Dubiel to back them up.

We're not overlooking some of the fine rookies with us this spring, either. Most of them have shown great promise, and you might hear a lot about fellows like Tom Simpson, Fred Baczewski, Vern Fear, Bob Schultz and Andy Varga.

Our outfield should be improved with the addition of Bob Addis from Boston and Bobby Usher from Cincinnati. Slugging Hank Sauer, speedster Hal Jeffcoat and the dependable Frank Baumholtz are going to have a rough battle with these new boys for first-string honors. Gene Hermanski is going to figure in that battle, too.

As I've said before, I'm not going to forecast where we'll finish, but I know we're not cellar-dwellers, and I believe we're going to give a lot of folks a pleasant surprise once the race gets underway at Wrigley Field against those Cardinals April 18th.

Editor's Note: Mr. Cavarretta was right. The Cubs were a pleasant surprise that year, starting off with an 11-5 record before evening out to 77-77 (and 1 tie) for the year. Hey, for the Chicago Cubs, that's a good year!

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