BROOKLYN RELIES ON TWO HANDS
There are two times when a baseball player boasts that he's in "real good shape": the day he signs his contract; and the day he reports for spring training. Last week, midway in baseball's annual big spring buildup, a lot of Brooklyn's Dodgers were painfully aware just how out of condition they were after the winter hiatus.
No one is more aware of this than Dr. Harold Wendler, beginning his 13th year as the Dodgers' trainer, as an unending parade of players stream to him with aching arms, pulled muscles, blistered hands and sunburned faces.
In his small training room, cluttered with rubbing tables, a whirlpool bath, a diathermy machine and a table overflowing with tape, gauze and bottled balm, Doc Wendler applies his ministrations (left). But his chief assets are his powerful skilled hands which massage and manipulate muscle and limb back into working order.
Besides the expected aches and pains, Brooklyn faces more serious problems. Many of the key men on whom the Dodgers' pennant hopes are pinned remain scarred with old wounds which neither heal quickly nor are easily forgotten. These players, too, turn to Doc Wendler with daily regularity.
Jackie Robinson, five pounds overweight and troubled with failing legs, sits in the soothing 105� water of a whirlpool bath. Don Newcombe, plagued with a sore pitching arm last season, has his arm rubbed and stretched. Carl Erskine, fighting to gain back eight pounds lost in a bout with pneumonia during the winter, eats all the bananas and cream that he can stomach. Pee Wee Reese, with an ailing back, gets heat to heal the strain. Rookie Pitcher Karl Spooner receives special attention for his knee, healing from an operation, and massage for a recently strained arm.
As a result, Manager Walter Alston is caught in a paradox. On one hand, he has a conditioning program designed to run with machinelike efficiency, while on the other, he is allowing—or is forced to allow—those ailing Dodgers to work at their own speed.
On a typical day, workout begins at 9:45 a.m., with 15 minutes of mass calisthenics, and for the next three hours, the 73 players, split into small groups, shuttle every 15 or 30 minutes with timetable precision between batting cages and batter's box, the sliding pits and the four practice diamonds.
The Dodgers will be in shape for opening day, but in Doc Wendler's hands—as much as in Alston's hands—rests Brooklyn's chances of getting off to a good start this season.
BOUILLON IS CHICAGO'S GIMMICK