Tyson astonished even his fellow Cardinals with his brilliant fielding and though he had never hit higher than .245 in the minor leagues he held his own at the plate, thanks in no small measure to the coaching of special batting instructor Harry Walker.
"Harry has had me hitting to right field more," says Tyson. "It's enabled me to watch the ball better and stay with it longer."
When Sizemore was finally able to play again, Schoendienst felt compelled to keep Tyson in the lineup, so he benched the taut Marion manqu� and sent Tyson to shortstop, where he has continued to play well and hit in the .240 range.
The Cardinals are fond of saying that Tyson has "solidified" their infield, which he probably has. But so has Ken Reitz, another rookie, at third base. Reitz, who ropes calves in the off-season, is an outstanding fielder who in the early weeks had trouble at bat. But recently he has been hitting with authority and his average has climbed to .240. For further solidification, Sizemore continued to play and hit as expertly as he had before he was so rudely interrupted. And Torre, who can play first or third and hit .300, is always a solidifier.
Schoendienst also took steps to firm up the outfield. He switched Rightfielder Luis Melendez to center and Centerfielder Jose Cruz to right. Then when Cruz slumped at the plate, Schoendienst hurried a revitalized Bernie Carbo into the breach. And Carbo, allowed to hit against left-handed pitching for the first time in three seasons, has raised his average 90 points in the last month to .280. He also gives the Cardinals a powerful and accurate arm in right field.
With Gibson, Rick Wise, Reggie Cleveland and Scipio Spinks, the Cardinals seemed to have a reliable starting-pitcher rotation. But Spinks, who missed half of 1972 with an injured knee, will be out virtually all of this year with a bad shoulder, and Gibson, a notoriously slow starter, lost five of his first seven decisions. In what first appeared to be relatively minor transactions, Devine obtained Alan Foster from the California Angels and Tom Murphy from a Kansas City farm team to plug the gap, and both proved surprisingly useful as starters and relievers. Then, as hoped, Gibson regained his customary 20-win form, losing but five of his next 14 starts.
And the Cardinal starters this year are benefiting from a much stronger bullpen, the star of which is Diego Segui. With 14 saves he has surpassed the team total of a year ago.
Still, with all this bolstering, the Cardinals are not exactly awesome. Although the fences at Busch Stadium have been moved in 10 feet in the power alleys and center field, the team is last in the major leagues in home runs, and only Torre is a legitimate threat to hit .300 for the season.
"The only things we really have going for us," says base-stealing champion Brock, "are outstanding pitching, pretty good defense and tremendous clutch hitting. Then, too, we've got the intangibles. We're heavy on intangibles."
"This team reminds me of the old Boston Celtics," says Torre. "Nobody scores over 20 points, but everybody scores 16. We also have a lot of young players who play like veterans and a lot of regulars who are not playing regularly. That's depth."