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Dr. John Claridge, White Sox team physician, came in to report to Lopez on Luis Aparicio, the regular shortstop, who had pulled a muscle in his thigh, and Larry Doby, the regular center fielder, who has a chronic difficulty with his legs. In scholarly phrases Dr. Claridge described their condition. Neither was ready to play. Resignedly, Lopez reached for a blank lineup card and began to figure out a batting order.
It turned out to be a trying evening. The game, tied at 2-2, went into extra innings. The White Sox threatened to score several times but failed. In the 11th inning, with a man on second, a Baltimore batter sliced a puny little hit to left that sent in the winning run.
Afterward, Lopez sat in his office, attended by two or three silent sportswriters. He took off his uniform pants and hung them up. He sat down, removed his spikes and stockings, rested his arms on his thighs, clasped his hands and looked down at the floor.
DEFEAT AND VICTORY
Though major league players are professional athletes and though even the best of them experience defeat 50 times a season, the mood in a losing team's locker room after an extra-inning defeat is one of great, muted tragedy. The only sounds this night were of the clubhouse men smacking spiked shoes together as they cleaned mud from them, the rattle of wood as bats were replaced in the clubhouse rack, the low murmur of voices.
One of the sportswriters said something comforting to Lopez.
"We should have won," Lopez said. "We had plenty of chances to score."
Coach Don Gutteridge, dressed in slacks and sport shirt, paused at the door on his way out of the clubhouse. He looked in at somber Lopez.
"There'll be another game tomorrow, Skip," he said. "You come out to the park again tomorrow."
"Yeah," Lopez said softly.