Since 1959, when they became the only team in the last eight years to take a pennant from the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox have given away more players than any team in baseball. Pitchers Dick Donovan, Bob Shaw and Billy Pierce were traded. Catchers Earl Battey and John Romano are gone. Norm Cash, Luis Aparicio and Al Smith now perform for somebody else. In fact, the only men left from '59 are Jim Landis, Nellie Fox, Sammy Esposito and Sherm Lollar (shown at left with Manager Al Lopez).
The White Sox start the season with a lineup that hit only 45 home runs in 1962 and stole only 38 bases—and Go-Go White Sox teams of the past would laugh at that. Probably no pitching staff could carry such a ball club, and yet White Sox pitchers are asked to carry the added burden of 23 doubleheaders this season. The Detroit Tigers, by comparison, play 10. "We have found," says Ed Short, the general manager, "that 60% to 65% of our Sunday fans are from out of Chicago and they won't come to Comiskey Park unless they feel they're getting a bargain."
Change in personnel and change in schedule are not the end of change in Chicago. "In 1959," says Lopez, "we went in for fielding and running, and we won a lot of one-run ball games. In 1960 we decided to go for power but it didn't work." Last year Smith led the team in homers (16) and was second in runs batted in, while Aparicio stole 31 bases. Both are with Baltimore now. Recently Smith charged that there was dissension on the White Sox in 1962. "As far as I know there is no dissension on this club," says Lopez, obviously happy to be rid of Smith and Aparicio and 1962 entirely. "We hope this year," says Lopez, "to finally start to build a team that has speed, power and defense. A balanced team."
If the entire Chicago White Sox organization can just forget change for the sake of change and stop lopping off every player who draws more than a dollar and a quarter in salary, this team might be balanced in a couple of years. Of late, the White Sox seem as frenetic as the Cubs uptown.
There might be some hitting around here someplace but it's well hidden. Ron Hansen (.173), Dave Nicholson (.173) and rookie Pete Ward (.143 in eight games) came in the big trade with Baltimore, and all three may be regulars. Ward is supposed to be a good hitter and is counted on to add some power to the White Sox attack (22 HRs, .328 at Rochester). Lopez has had movies taken of Hansen and Nicholson to help prove to them that they have faulty swings. Nicholson once cost the Orioles $100,000, but they never were able to teach him the location of the strike zone. Nellie Fox has tailed off in the last two years—not surprising in a man of 35. Jim Landis slipped to .228, and that is surprising for a man of 29. The White Sox still have high hopes for Mike Hershberger even though his .260 last year included only 20 extra-base hits. The only hitters of any consequence on the team are regulars Joe Cunningham (.302 lifetime, but no power) and Floyd Robinson (.312, 109 RBIs).
Last year Ray Herbert stopped depending exclusively on his fast ball and added a changeup and a good curve. As a consequence, he became a 20-game winner for the first time. Juan Pizarro was supposed to be a 20-game winner last year but ended up 12-14. Manager Lopez still believes that Pizarro is one of the best left-handers in baseball. A torn shoulder muscle kept Joe Horlen off the mound for 2½ months, but he has gained an inch in height and put on weight—which should make him stronger and help lift his 7-6 record. Another disappointment was John Buzhardt (8-12, 4.20 ERA). Knuckle-ball Pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, 39, is with the White Sox this year and may still be effective in relief. "We haven't had a great relief man since the days of Gerry Staley," says Lopez, "and I think that our whole team will gain confidence by just knowing that Wilhelm is in the bullpen." Chicago's best-looking rookie, Dave DeBusschere, might turn out to be a regular starter. The Sox did not want him to play pro basketball (with the Detroit Pistons), but DeBusschere wanted to, and that was that.
The White Sox will be strong defensively on the left side of the infield, with Ward at third and Hansen at short. The right side is no longer what it once was; Second Baseman Fox is aging fast and Cunningham is only adequate at first. The outfield has good overall speed when Robinson, Landis and Hershberger are playing. Catchers Sherm Lollar and Camilo Carreon will do a good job if they can handle Wilhelm's knuckle ball.