Doby to Man Center Field in Second Half of Season

July 9, 1948

It likely will not be until after the All-Star break, but whenever Larry Doby is healthy enough to take the field, he’ll be the Tribe’s starting center fielder.

Doby played most of the last home stand in the center of the outfield, making several running catches and defensive gems. He’s hitting .286 for the season and upped his batting average more than 20 points while the Indians were home last time. He was having his best stretch of the season and as a big leaguer before twisting his ankle rounding second base on June 27.

He was unable to make the western road trip and has yet to play during this home stand. Indians manager Lou Boudreau thinks Doby could pinch-hit this weekend, but likely will not see action until after All-Star break during the Indians third trip to the east coast this season.

“Doby probably can be used as a pinch-hitter Sunday,” Boudreau said. “But he won’t start until we go east. The ankle needs plenty of rest.”

Wally Judnich has played most of the time in center field since Doby’s injury, and on the last east coast trip. He’s only hitting .224 on the season, with just one home run. He was the only hitter in the Tribe’s lineup that did not have a hit in the 15-hit beatdown of the Chicago White Sox yesterday. Instead, Judnich struck out twice on slow curves.

Thurman Tucker, the Tribe’s opening day starter in center field, is still struggling with pain in his index finger. Since being injured in late May, Tucker has pain and struggles to grip a bat on back-to-back days. Since the injury he has seen limited action and has been used mostly as a defensive replacement or pinch runner.

When Doby returns to the lineup, fellow African-American Satchel Paige will join him on the Tribe. Paige was signed on Wednesday to help shore up the Tribe’s pitching staff in the second half. The tandem will make up half the African Americans in the big leagues this season.

The other two, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, will be at Cleveland Stadium next Wednesday for an exhibition game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Indians. It is the second half of a home-and-home exhibition to benefit youth baseball. All proceeds from Wednesday’s game will benefit the Cleveland Baseball Federation.

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