Publish date:



Over the winter Whitey Herzog, manager of the world champions, hit the Rockies for skiing, the Ozarks for fishing, Japan to promote a brand of beer and the ever-treacherous Banquet Trail (it shows). But wherever he went, he could not escape a pleasant problem. The Cardinals have four outfielders who deserve playing time, and the custom in baseball is to use only three.

Lonnie Smith is a fixture in left because no one else in baseball can provide his combination of speed and run production—68 stolen bases, 69 RBIs in '82. "I want 70 and 70 this year," says Smith. "Ty Cobb was the last man to do that." Willie McGee, hero of World Series Game 3, can't be denied centerfield, even though he caused the problem in the first place—he wasn't supposed to be so good. To ensure another good year, Hurdice McGee, Willie's father and a deacon in the Greater Faith Pentecostal Church in Richmond, Calif., rubbed blessed olive oil on his son's hands and feet.

Then there's David Green, the 22-year-old Nicaraguan, who showed so much promise in brief appearances with the team last year he is now being heralded as the next Roberto Clemente. Which leaves George Hendrick, who only drove in 104 runs last year. Herzog offered Pitcher Bob Forsch and Third Baseman Ken Oberkfell to Texas for Buddy Bell, but the Rangers refused. "You talk to some teams," says Herzog, "and they say, 'We don't need that,' and 'We don't need this.' They lost 90 games in one year and they don't need anything?"

So why is Herzog looking for offers for the guy he says is the best rightfielder in the league? As of May 28, Hendrick becomes a 10-and-5 man, which means that he can veto any trade by virtue of having spent 10 years in the majors, five with the current team. Hendrick is aware of the bind the Cardinals are in, and though he doesn't want to leave, he doesn't want to stand in Green's way. He even went to Herzog at the start of spring training and asked if Gold Glover Keith Hernandez could work with him at first base.

Should Hendrick stay, the Cardinals would remain almost unchanged from the team that painted St. Louis red in October. Jamie Quirk, the former Royal, was signed as a free agent to replace Gene Tenace as the backup catcher. John Fulgham, one of the most impressive young pitchers in the league in 1979, is back in the bigs after a two-year bout with arm trouble. The Cardinals could use him if they are to become only the fifth team in the last 30 years to repeat as world champions. In any event, they should be there in October making a bid.

The Smith "brothers" left opponents coughing, Shortstop Ozzie taking their breath away with his Nijinskylike moves in the field and Leftfielder Lonnie making foes swallow hard with 68 steals. Two relievers also left the opposition feeling ill: Bruce Sutter (36 saves) and Doug Bair (2.55 ERA). St. Louis' Haw: It won only 26 of the 78 games in which the opposition took the initial lead.