Going up with talented youngsters
Strong points: The Red Sox have pitching and defense, maybe not of championship caliber, but plenty good enough. Big Don Schwall (24) won 15 games and Bill Monbouquette (25) won 14 games last year. Tracy Stallard had an unimpressive 2-7 record, but he was pitching well toward the end of the season. At 24, he may be ready to win. Gene Conley makes an acceptable fourth starter. The Red Sox infield is sound. Pete Runnels presents a small target at first base but fields the position capably. Chuck Schilling is a wizard at making the double play, an art the Red Sox have always managed to botch in the past. Frank Malzone at third is no longer the pre-1960 model, but there are still few better. At shortstop the Red Sox have Ed Bressoud, via Houston and San Francisco. Bressoud replaces Don Buddin, who was booed right out of Boston. No matter what Bressoud does, and it doesn't figure to be much, Red Sox fans will consider it an improvement. The Red Sox outfield of Carl Yastrzemski in left field, Gary Geiger in center and either Carroll Hardy or Lou Clinton in right is fast, especially when Hardy is playing.
Weak spots: It wasn't too long ago that the Red Sox could make brave pitchers cower al the sight of a lineup that included hitters like Williams, Wertz and Jensen. These men are gone now and the Sox start the season with hitters who may not be able to reach that short left-field wall. The team's best hitters, Runnels (.317) and Yastrzemski (.266 but strong second half), are left-handed and don't hit home runs anyway. Malzone, Clinton and Catcher Jim Pagliaroni are right-handed and should hit a few, but not many. Last year the Red Sox hit fewer home runs than any team in the league if you don't count Kansas City (few do). Red Sox runs will come hard again this year.
The big ifs: The Sox are young. Last year four rookies made the team—Schwall, Yastrzemski, Schilling and Pagliaroni. Much of the Red Sox fortunes in 1962 depend on the development of these four players. Much will also depend on several new men who are coming along this year.
Rookies and new faces: Out of the Don Schwall mold come two more fine-looking pitchers: Dick Radatz, 25, and Dave Busby, 20. Radatz was an outstanding relief pitcher with Seattle last year. Busby, who was 21-7 with Waterloo, may be a year away, but then that's what everyone said about Schwall last spring. Right-handed power hitter Bob Tillman, 25, will be a reserve catcher.
OUTLOOK: The Red Sox have what the sociologists call "upward mobility." They will be fighting for the first division this year and have a rosy chance.
The bunt's the thing
Gary Geiger, the Red Sox' slender center fielder, hit 18 home runs last year and drove in 64 runs. That was more homers and RBIs than Geiger had ever had. But people were grumbling. Geiger's batting average, they noted, had dropped 70 points because he had suddenly started swinging for the fences.
Geiger admits he swung all-out a few times—when he should have been bunting instead. "The year before," he said, "I beat out 13 or 14 bunts. That's one big reason why I hit .300. It made a difference of about 25 points on my average. But last year I beat out only two or three. I got in a hot streak in late June, early July and started hitting the long ball. I forgot about bunting."
This year Geiger will let Roger Maris play low-average, high-homer baseball. He'll try to bunt his way into the big money.