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In 16 major league camps sprinkled throughout Florida and Arizona, spring is a time to assess, with care and caution and infinite curiosity, the aching or aging muscles of a Ted Williams, a Stan Musial, a Mickey Mantle. It is also a time to appreciate, with continuing wonder, the blooming health and marvelous skills of a Henry Aaron, an Ernie Banks, an Al Kaline. But to most people—and here a manager is just like any other fan—spring is the time to watch the rookies.
The five presented here are not the most publicized rookies of the 1960 camps or, necessarily, those with the greatest gifts. But while others of exceptional talent and perhaps even greater promise—boys like Tommy Davis and Frank Howard of the Dodgers, Walt Bond of the Indians, Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox, J. C. Martin of the White Sox and Tony Curry of the Phils—may go back to the minors for more seasoning, here are rookies who have made it.
Others whom baseball fans across the nation will be seeing in big league uniforms this year are Jim Umbricht and Joe Gibbon of the Pirates, Chuck Estrada of the Orioles, Jim Coker and Pancho Herrera of the Phils, Ken Hamlin of the Athletics, Johnny James and Bill Short of the Yankees. Their names, in most cases unfamiliar today, may be household words tomorrow. Anyway, they are ready to help their ball clubs right now.
Spraying hits to all fields, outrunning fly balls, Lou Johnson, a 25-year-old speedster from Lexington, Ky., is the new right-fielder for the Chicago Cubs. A crouch hitter, he has been consistently over .300 in the minors, and this spring it has been almost impossible to get him out.
Starting late because of college ( Virginia '54) and two years in the Army, pleasant, soft-spoken Joe Hicks was kept off White Sox roster until he was almost 27. A deadly hitter at every minor league level, he has been blazing this spring, may beat Al Smith for the regular right-field job.
Steamshovel at short, Baltimore's gangling Ron Hansen looks like a 21-year-old Marty Marion, in both size and defensive skill, comes up with everything hit his way. His problem is at the plate, but Orioles say job is his "if he hits .220."
Strikeout sensation of Senators, who feel he may be Rookie of the Year (certainly no one ever looked more like a rookie), is 21-year-old Jim Kaat. Jim throws with an easy motion, has fine curve and unusual control for young left-hander.
Package of power Lou Klimchock is 20, quiet, mannerly, has five brothers, comes from Latrobe, Pa. For Kansas City he will be at short or third, not because of grace afield but because of his bat. He hits often and hard, drives in runs.