ANALYSIS OF THE REDS
A strong outfield, a trio of fine relievers, a solid catcher, one dependable starting pitcher. Center Fielder Vada Pinson and Left Fielder Frank Robinson are heart of team. Both have power (last year Pinson had 20 home runs, Robinson 31), good batting averages ( Pinson .287, Robinson .297), speed ( Pinson stole 32 bases, Robinson 13) and good gloves. If Pinson overcomes an occasional tendency to lunge at pitches, he will be even better. Wally Post and Gus Bell hit total of 31 home runs, will be platooned in right field. Jim Brosnan (2.36 ERA), Marshall Bridges (2.37 ERA) and Bill Henry (3.18 ERA) form choice bullpen. Catcher Ed Bailey handles pitchers well, has strong arm. His 13 home runs, 67 RBIs were second-best totals for an NL catcher last season. Control Pitcher Bob Purkey (17-11) is only reliable starter.
Ragged first-line infield, inadequate reserve strength (except for outfield). With departure of Shortstop Roy McMillan and Second Baseman Billy Martin through trades, infield will be almost completely revamped. Gordy Coleman has had only half a year of major league experience at first base, has yet to prove himself. Second base belongs to 30-year-old rookie Jim Baumer or disappointing holdover Elio Chacon. Veteran Eddie Kasko played 33 games at second a year ago, another 86 at third. He's now the shortstop, where he played only 15 games in 1960. Hard-hitting, poor-fielding Gene Freese is at third.
THE BIG IFS
The young pitchers. Except for Purkey, Red starters are kids: Jim O'Toole (24), Jay Hook (24), Joey Jay (25), Jim Maloney (20). This quartet started 85 NL games among them last year, won only 34, and they won't be helped this year by the shaky infield. But they are a talented group; if they come through en masse, Manager Fred Hutchinson will have a first-division club.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Trades brought Jay from Milwaukee and Freese from the White Sox. Jay, a perennial disappointment with Milwaukee, must improve his control. Rookie Jim Baumer (.293 at Salt Lake) is a 10-year veteran in the minors, only major league experience was eight games for White Sox in 1949. Second-string catchers are rookies Jerry Zimmerman and Hal Bevan, who shared duties at Seattle last season.
Since third-place, 91-victory year in 1956, Reds have fallen lower and lower (sixth, 67 victories last season). It's unlikely they'll fall any lower, just as unlikely they'll go any higher.
SWEAT AND BB GUNS
Fred Hutchinson had his Redlegs sweating this spring. They ran, did push-ups, ran some more, worked on fundamentals, did more running and even went to night school. Hutchinson's reasoning was simple. The Reds last year were a dead team. They finished sixth—comfortably. If they finish sixth again this season, as far as Hutchinson is concerned, they will do it uncomfortably.
The running that took place at the end of each practice was enough to drop a tough marine. In spring training running usually consists of a friendly jog of perhaps 50 yards across the outfield, then a leisurely walk back over the same course. Generally, the players are left to themselves: they decide when they have run enough. But at Tampa Jim Turner, the old Yankee pitching coach, stood beside the outfield fence, a counting device in his hand, his cool blue eyes surveying the drooping athletes. When some of them cut the length of the course from, say, 50 yards to 30, old Jim told them to stretch it out again. When one of them insisted that the 20 laps he was supposed to run had been completed, old Jim just smiled and said that his indicator had registered only 17. When the running was finally over and the exhausted athletes walked to the clubhouse 100 yards away, they looked as if they would never make it.
The night school was closed to the press. Hutchinson showed films and drew diagrams on a blackboard. The films were of the players hitting or pitching and were shown in slow motion. The diagrams showed pickoff plays, backing-up plays and rundowns. Classes lasted about an hour and were held several times a week.