New Salem Mixture In Need of Pitching
(Editor’s Note: This is one in a series on the prospects of the Western International League, written for The Associated Press by the sportswriters who follow the teams throughout the season).
By ALFRED C. JONES
Sports Editor, Sports Editor, Capitol Journal [April 25, 1954]
SALEM, Ore.—Manager Harvey Storey is stirring up a potion of half veterans and half rookies or limited service players in the bailiwick of the Salem Senators.
But even by skimming off the best of the brew he feels the Solons must have more strong-armed pitchers to do more than fight for the first division.
Storey, at 37 with 18 seasons behind him which include 11 in the Pacific Coast League, hopes to equal the .343 he hit in 140 games as player-manager of Vancouver last year. He will be stationed at third base.
The soft-spoken manager takes over from a mutual admirer, Hugh Luby, the second baseman, who has packed away his glove after 22 seasons of organized baseball in favour of the Salem general managership. It is through Luby’s connections with Sacramento that the Senators hope to strengthen the sinews of their pitching arms.
The quality of the goods thrown from the mound this spring has been both good and bad, the good coming from Jim Petersen, Jack Hemphill, Larry Borst and Bob McFarlane. Peterson appeared in eight games for Salem last year; McFarlane had a 4-7 record for Salt Lake City; Hemphill, 15-12 for Salem in 1953, is stronger; and Borst, 7-8 for the Senators last season, is counted on to improve.
Moundsmen also here trying for one of the seven berths open are Ron Varnun, former Washington State College pitcher with semi-pro experience, and Bill Castell, on option from Sacramento after army service.
Due from Sacramento for trial are Johnny Briggs, 10-8 with Idaho Falls last year, ad Gene Johnson, 9-12 with Idaho Falls.
Lost from the hill are Joe Nicholas, 23-7, now with Portland; and Gene Roenspie, 19-5, now with Sacramento. Also sold from the 1953 team which won the first half is Les Witherspoon, the .331-hitting Negro outfielder.
Storey believes Salem has uncovered a gem in Mel Krause, 24, an Oregon high school coach available only for home games until school closes. Krause has shown he can do everything well and is ticketed for second base or shortstop.
Gene Tanselli weakened enough to agree to terms and will add his .295 calibre bat to the infield. He had been given a trial with Portland this spring. At first base is Chester Neal, who visited with Wenatchee for 15 games and hit .352 last year, then benefited Amarillo for .305 in 122 games.
Storey plans to complete his infield after experimenting at second base with Tanselli, Krause or Lou Scrivens. Scrivens was with Salem only seven games last spring. At shortstop there is Carl Belletti, a slick-fielding rookie optioned by San Diego. He must compete with the two who don’t make it at second.
The fly chasers are having to show their wares to play in the outfield. The .300-hitting Connie Perez has returned from Cuba to take left field again. A veteran of Class AA play, Bob Kellogg, is charted for centre field. He hit .296 for Colorado Springs in 1952 and sat out for semi-pro baseball last year.
Right field activity will be divided between Pete Estrada, a .314 hitter for Idaho Falls in 1953, and Chester Ashman, a strong-winged fielder who hit .272 for Salt Lake City.
The only two catchers in camp are Floyd Ogden and Bill Heisner, both handy receivers. Ogden hit .298 with Redding in 1951 and has been in the U.S. Army for two years. Heisner was with Vancouver in 1950 and Salt Lake City in 1951 before signing for two years in the army.