If baseball were a game that could be played all summer with eight men and one pitcher, Manager Marty Marion would be in good shape. The regular White Sox lineup is one of the most impressive in baseball—they can hit (well), run (very well) and field (beautifully), and the big-three pitching staff of Pierce, Harshman and Donovan will win a lot of games. But the Sox lack a fourth starter; there is no infield depth; they must depend on an untested—although highly promising—rookie at shortstop, and it could be tragic if George Kell, Sherm Lollar, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso fail to keep healthy. Just the same, Marion finished only five games out of first last year, and his '56 White Sox front-liners look even better. The acquisition of Larry Doby added needed left-hand power and another first-line pitcher could develop. The forecast: close again.
2 NELSON FOX, SECOND BASE: Aggressive and tough, Fox keeps the infield jumping, makes all the plays, will steady Rookie Aparicio at short. One of the league's most consistent hitters with good power for a little man.
9 ORESTES MINOSO, LEFT FIELD: A flashy, highly talented ballplayer who can hit hard, field and run the bases, Minnie had trouble after an early-season beaning in '55. If back to normal, he's one of the game's best; if not, Marion has cause for concern.
10 SHERM LOLLAR, CATCHER. This 31-year-old veteran has been called a manager behind the plate—cool, smart and an excellent handler of pitchers. Not a great arm but a quick one; not a great hitter but good enough.
19 BILLY PIERCE, PITCHER: A poised left-hander with speed and superb control, he led the league last year in ERA (1.97), with any luck should improve on 15-10 record which included short end of four 1-0 decisions.
George Kell still has a bad back but that is his only problem; at 33 he still hits .300 every year, makes all the plays at third and can take over at first when needed. Big Walt Dropo, at first, hit hard in '55 after a slow start and has lived down a reputation as a weak spot on defense. The outfield is strong: alongside Minoso and Doby are Jim Rivera, a four-way standout with his bat, glove, arm and base-running ability; Old Pro Bob Kennedy, who can also help at third; the veteran Bob Nieman and newcomer Bubba Phillips (see below). To back up the big-three pitching staff are Connie Johnson, Bob Keegan, Harry Byrd, Sandy Consuegra and Mike Fornieles. One could become the fourth starter Marion is looking for or each could be used on a spot basis and also work in relief alongside ancient but reliable Dixie Howell.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH
5 BUBBA PHILLIPS, OUTFIELD: Sox picked him up from Detroit, hope he'll return to minor league batting form. Not much power but consistent, a fine defensive fielder.
11 LUIS APARICIO, SHORTSTOP: He looked so good in the minors, the Sox were willing to trade away Carrasquel. Slick defensively, fair hitter, a whiz on the bases.
14 LARRY DOBY, CENTER FIELD: His only weakness at Cleveland was temperament, and this spring Doby has been tearing the cover off the ball. At 31 a standout hitter, with great power, and one of the league's best outfielders.
Four rookies, Infielders Sam Esposito and Carl Peterson, Catcher Earl Battey, Pitcher Joe Dahlke all look good.
BOARD OF STRATEGY
4 MARTY MARION, MANAGER: As a five-time All-Star shortstop for the Cardinals, Slats Marion was one of baseball's friendliest players. As a manager, he has learned to fight for everything, runs a tough, scrappy team which never quits. Off the field he is still relaxed, gets along well with his players.
White Sox coaches are RAY BERRES (37), GEORGE MYATT (34), DON GUTTERIDGE (39) and DEL WILBER (33).
4 MARTY MARION