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SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Orlando can make them happy or sad
April 08, 1963
Five different teams have won National League pennants since '57. The Giants, with their thunderous power and pitching, could stop this nonsense—but only if Cepeda is willing
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April 08, 1963

San Francisco Giants: Orlando Can Make Them Happy Or Sad

Five different teams have won National League pennants since '57. The Giants, with their thunderous power and pitching, could stop this nonsense—but only if Cepeda is willing

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That Orlando Cepeda's big brown eyes are often sad has been a matter of concern to the Giants in the past, but it was not until this spring that his teammates were caught in his dilemma. When Cepeda (left) became the most prominent holdout of 1963, one Giant player snapped, "How long does he think he can hold out after the way he played last year?" Manager Alvin Dark spoke up, too. "We have worked on all possible plays involving the pitcher, second baseman and first baseman, but when Orlando gets here we'll have to do it all over again." Dark also explained a plus-minus rating system that he kept on his players last year. Willie Mays led with some 100 plus points. " Cepeda," Dark said darkly, "had 40 more minuses than pluses." Last season Cepeda hit 35 homers, had 114 RBIs and batted .306. Still, Giant officials rankle at the memory of his .231 in the final five weeks, and even more at his lack of hustle. Last August, Cepeda was fined $50 for not running out a grounder. In the clubhouse Cepeda yelled at Dark, "Why you don't make it $1,000?" Orlando went on a brief batting spree, but he had developed a loop in his swing and was lunging at pitches.

If 1962 ended on a sour note, 1963 opened on an acid one, with virtually the entire Giant organization, including his teammates, unhappy with Orlando. At times a highly sensitive and emotional person, Cepeda has been, for all his success, a frustrated player. He has been hurt by the fact that he plays in Mays's shadow, by his failure to gain recognition as leader of the Latin players on the club ( Felipe Alou has that honor), by contractual wranglings and by his own late-season performance. Shortly before Cepeda reported this year, part-time Coach Hank Sauer said, "If he doesn't get that loop out of his swing soon he'll be in real trouble. It's not the kind of thing you correct while you're playing a game."

A year ago the Giants catapulted into an early lead largely because of Cepeda, who on June 1 was hitting .341. Without that quick getaway the Giants would not have been in contention. They will need it even more this season.

HITTING
The same batters who produced hits (better than one an inning) and runs (5.3 a game) on an assembly line basis are back. San Francisco led the majors in both categories. Chief of Production Willie Mays had 141 RBIs, was tops in the majors with 49 homers and batted .304, his sixth straight .300 year. The other big men were: Felipe Alou (.316, 25 HRs, 98 RBIs), Cepeda, Harvey Kuenn (.304, 10 HRs, 68 RBIs) and Jim Davenport (.297, 14 HRs). This sluggingest of all clubs also has Willie McCovey, an off-season toy salesman, whose part-time .293 BA was supplemented by 20 home runs. He hit one for each 11.5 at bats, the best such performance in baseball last year. Reserve Outfielder Matty Alou (.292) was not an easy out either. Tom Haller and Ed Bailey shared the catching and between them had 35 home runs and 100 RBIs.

PITCHING
Unsurpassed in either league were the Giants' top four starters—righthanders Jack Sanford (24-7, 3.43 ERA) and Juan Marichal (18-11, 3.35 ERA), left-handers Billy Pierce (16-6, 3.50 ERA) and Billy O'Dell (19-14, 3.52 ERA). Their 58 complete games were 10 ahead of any other team's big four. Jack Fisher had a 5.09 ERA and a 7—9 record with Baltimore last year but has enough stuff and control to become the fifth starter. It is in the bullpen that the only possible crisis exists. Trades took away Stu Miller and Dick LeMay. Former Oriole Billy Hoeft, counted on to take up the slack, injured his pitching shoulder twice this spring and is not expected to be in top shape until May. Still the Giants have Jim Duffalo for long relief and spot starts, and Bob Bolin, who has an excellent fast ball and an improved sinker, ready for two- and three-inning jobs. Low-baller Don Larsen specializes at coming in with men on base and cutting rallies short.

FIELDING
A ball hit in the vicinity of Davenport at third, Jose Pagan at short, Mays in center or Felipe Alou in right hasn't got a chance. It is hard to find two better men on pop-ups than Pagan and Catcher Haller, a vital consideration at Candlestick Park, where even gentle breezes blow people out of the stands. Kuenn and McCovey are adequate left fielders and if they hug the line it is no bother because Mays and Alou can compensate. If there is a weakness anywhere it would be on the right side of the infield. Chuck Hiller made seven more errors than any other second baseman. Infielder Joey Amalfitano, obtained from the Colts, will be a valuable fill-in.

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