The pride and despair of the nation's capital finished a flat last in 1955 and this year's club may be even weaker. Porterfield, Vernon, McDermott and Schmitz were traded off for a bundle of raw, untried youngsters. Manager Dressen, an eternal optimist, insists nothing could be worse than last year's listless crew and that this season, at least, the Senators will show some spirit. He may be right. Aside from spirit the team has first-rate catching (Courtney and Berberet), a brilliant fielding shortstop (Valdivielso), a good third baseman (Yost), one genuine power hitter (Sievers), one genuine singles hitter (Runnels). But the pitching is all hope: Stone, Stobbs, Pascual and Ramos, the top four, won a total of just 17 games last year. How high the Senators go in the league's three-team cellar group depends mostly on how bad the Orioles and A's prove to be.
1 EDDIE YOST, THIRD BASE: Won't be 30 until next October but he's in his 13th major league season and it's beginning to show. Tires in late innings. Ordinarily he's a good sharp hitter, a walk-getter, a run-scorer and just about the best fielding third baseman in the league.
2 ROY SIEVERS, FIRST BASE: Rookie of Year in 1949 but tailed off, went back to minors. Found self last two seasons, hit 24 and 25 homers, batted in 102, 106 runs, despite spacious Griffith Stadium, graveyard of long-ball hitters. Shortened fences there this year should help Sievers.
5 PETE RUNNELS, SECOND BASE: Consistent .275 hitter, but so-so fielder. Switched from short to second last year. This spring Dressen is trying to convert him into left fielder, without, however, striking success.
36 JOSE VALDIVIELSO, SHORTSTOP: One of Dressen's enthusiasms, this lithe, cheerful, ambitious young Cuban is unquestionably one of most brilliant fielding shortstops in the league, but so far hasn't hit much better than your sister.
Infield is in good shape—for Senators—and could be even better if newcomer Herb Plews makes it at second. This would strengthen outfield too, if Runnels can play left—and outfield can stand help. Untried Karl Olson from Red Sox (below) and big, erratic Carlos Paula look better than Veteran Johnny Groth and tiny (5 feet 5 inches) Ernie Oravetz, who hit two homers between them for Senators last year. Rookie Dick Tettelbach from Yankees, an ex-Yale man, is all-out hustler and fine outfield prospect. Clint Courtney and Lou Berberet. (below), chunky, aggressive, left-hand-hitting catchers, both look good. Dressen is counting on his own guile to squeeze some victories out of shaky pitching staff.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH
11 LOU BERBERET, CATCHER: Prize prospect from Yankees, came to Senators in McDermott trade. Massively built, very strong, lefty batter, hits long ball.
19 KARL OLSON, CENTER FIELD: Came to Washington in the Porterfield-Vernon trade with Red Sox. Big, fast, strong, capable fielder but has yet to prove he is bona fide big leaguer.
41 CONNIE GROB, PITCHER: Name rhymes with robe. Big right-hander from Dodger chain, Senators' No. 1 draft choice last winter. Hard worker with good sinker. Poised. Relief hope.
Senators loaded with talented, hopeful young men snared in trades with Yanks and Red Sox. Best bets other than those mentioned: Pitchers Brodowski, Clevenger, Wiesler.
BOARD OF STRATEGY
7 CHARLEY DRESSEN, MANAGER: Talkative Dressen first managed in majors in 1934 with Reds, later coached Dodgers, Yanks, managed Dodgers to two consecutive pennants and quit after dispute with Owner O'Malley. Self-admitted expert on pitching, Dressen is his own pitching coach. Hardbitten COOKIE LAVAGETTO (51) is his No. 1 aide. Other coaches are fiery ELLIS CLARY (53), ex-Infield Star BILL JURGES (60), and JOE FITZGERALD (52).
41 CONNIE GROB